Sky Sports to deliver rousing interval talk

The broadcaster has a plucky rival in BT Sport nipping at its heels, but analysts still expect a stirring financial performance

If you don't want to know the score in the City's big football match, you should look away on Thursday. That's the day when BSkyB updates investors on the first half of its first half (so to speak) and the focus will be on the satellite broadcaster's star: Sky Sports.

Fittingly, the tactical discussions will resemble a game of two halves. The first issue relates to how the channel is performing now it has a new rival in BT Sport, and the word from those watching from the City's terraces is that the change of opposition will have had little effect, with most of Sky's numbers expected to remain positive.

What will be of more concern, however, is the return fixture. Analysts see the latest battle for rights to broadcast the Champions League as critical – and at this stage of the season it's all about the result rather than how beautifully the team plays, with few Sky investors caring how much their squad pays as long as it wins.

As Nomura reports: "If Sky retains the rights, even at a high cost, that will signal a robust defence of its business model. If BT captures the rights, investors will assume it intends to be even more aggressive on the Premier League next time around, and that could signal a seminal change in market dynamics." Or, as footballer Mark Noble once supposedly put it: "Not to win is guttering."

A Treasury coup? Sir John couldn't possibly say

As chancellor in 1997, Gordon Brown handed the Bank of England its independence from the Treasury. Is George Osborne close to finally snatching it back?

Having installed outsider Mark Carney as the Bank's governor (while snubbing the internal candidate, Paul Tucker) the chancellor and his Treasury advisers subsequently settled one of their own as the new deputy governor when Tucker quit.

Sir Jon Cunliffe hasn't officially started yet, but we get to see him in action for the first time in his new gig this week as he appears in front of the Treasury select committee tomorrow. There, he's likely to be probed about Carney's pet policy of forward guidance (a tactic committee chairman Andrew Tyrie reckons would be difficult to explain "down the Dog & Duck"), about Help to Buy (see below) and about the state of the UK economy, although probably not on whether being a former Treasury man means this is a takeover of Threadneedle Street by Horse Guards Road.

What we will learn, however, is debatable. Cunliffe is currently an EU diplomat, so is used to fielding thorny questions. Sadly, he is equally accustomed to refusing to answer any of them.

Election is child's play for George the fixer

"You do wonder if George Osborne's booming economy has been partly inspired by children's teatime television," moans a junior stockbroker, forced to don fancy dress as he trades soaring Royal Mail shares. "This week I'm dressed up as Postman Pat. Next week? Probably Bob the bloody Builder when Bellway announces."

Some might argue that either outfit would represent a more subtle version of the City's usual uniform of two-tone shirts and red braces, but the broker's message is clear. The Square Mile is happy to play along with the chancellor's tinkering as long it can make money, although it does so with the lingering concern that things could make it look slightly ridiculous.

Anyway, this week Bellway announces its full-year results as virtually all of the City utters optimistic words on the shares. But apart from studying the company's latest utterings on trading, what investors will really want to know is how Osborne's Help to Buy (The Next Election) scheme is affecting prospects.

A quick look at the builder's website gives a clue, with much of the front page given up to adverts plugging the 95% government-backed mortgages. Many observers worry this simply increases demand while doing nothing to increase supply – with the fear that it will translate into a housing boom. If so, could Osborne fix that?

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