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BT chiefs face early test

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BT's new boss faces an early showdown with chairman Sir Christopher Bland in what could prove to be the first power struggle at the monster telco.

Relations between BT's new chief exec, Ben Verwaayen and chairman, Sir Christopher, could be put under strain just a day after the Dutchman takes up his new appointment at the embattled telco.

However, any tension between the two men is unlikely to revolve around the future strategy of BT or anything quite so trivial.

Instead, it will concern the deep-rooted tribal loyalties of two soccer fans as Arsenal face Southampton at Highbury on February 2.

Mr Verwaayen is a big supporter of the Gunners and Sir Christopher is a long-standing Southampton season ticket holder.

The two teams meet just a day after Mr Verwaayen succeeds Sir Peter Bonfield as CEO.

It's not known if both men will put their loyalties to one side and attend the match together. It would make an ideal opportunity for BT's bigwigs to get to know one another.

The last time the two sides played each other in the Premiership Arsenal won 2-0. Perhaps that explains why Arsenal are currently second in the table just four points behind Liverpool.

Southampton, on the other hand, have taken up their usual residency at the other end of the table hovering fourth from bottom.

Today's newspapers were unimpressed with the appointment of Mr Verwaayen describing the market's reaction as "underwhelmed". ®

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