THE sale of Burnley’s Apollo cinema complex to new operators has been confirmed by the Office of Fair Trading.

Cinema giant Vue had stepped in to buy the 14-strong Apollo chain, including the Manchester Road multiplex.

But the OFT had expressed concerns that this might lead to unfair competition for film lovers in certain areas.

This would have been no more apparent than East Lancs, where Vue already runs cinemas in Blackburn and Burnley.

Loughborough-based Reel Cinemas has now stepped in to acquire the Burnley site, along with sister locations at Morecambe, Port Talbot in South Wales and Fareham, Kent.

Amelia Fletcher, OFT chief economist, who decided on the transfer, said: “The OFT was concerned that, as a result of Vue’s acquisition of Apollo, cinema goers in four local areas could face higher prices and a reduction in choice.

“The OFT believes that the sale of all Apollo cinemas in these areas to Reel will now ensure there continues to be effective competition in these areas.”

Even before the Apollo deal, Vue was the second-largest cinema operator in the UK, with 68 sites, second only to the Odeon chain.

Question marks remain over whether the move will affect plans, previously approved for the Manchester Road site, which would see a new entrance and eaterie created.

The OFT did have the option of referring the matter to the Competition Commission but was satisifed with the moves announced by Vue.