IT'S your BBC, they say. Well, up to a point, Lord Reith.

Last week's sensational news about York City's plans to sell Bootham Crescent and move to a purpose-built 10,000-seat stadium was first made public by BBC Radio York at 7am on Friday. It was, the station and its website insisted, an "exclusive".

Not quite. The Evening Press had the story some weeks earlier, but had deferred publication several times at the request of the club.

Radio York was eventually allowed to run the story first only because it had paid to be City's official media sponsor.

Most licence fee payers will be as surprised as the Diary to learn that Radio York is spending our money on commercial sponsorship deals with a private business - even one as special as York City.

Radio York managing editor Matt Youdale told us it was "an extremely good deal" for the public service broadcaster.

Moneybags Matt decided to splash our cash to become City's media sponsor at the start of last season - but insisted he had not paid a lot more than the station would have normally spent on commentary rights.

Okay, so how much? "I am not going to tell you that."

But it's my money!

"It may well be, but it's commercially sensitive information."

So much for "Your BBC".

The private deal with public money has boosted the station's profile, said Matt. It has also secured Radio York behind-the-scenes access to record a fly-on-the-wall documentary at Bootham Crescent.

Chequebook journalism, anyone?

As well as Radio York's cash, City has also enjoyed more time on air and has supported the station's charity, Caroline's Rainbow Foundation, Matt added.

Pausing only to suggest a "tripartite" deal between the Evening Press, Radio York and City next season, the Arthur Daly of Auntie Beeb closed our conversation with a cheery: "If you're going to do the dirty with me on this, Chris, I'll be straight on the phone to your editor."

STAYING with football, it is good to note that even York's beggars are getting into the St George's spirit for Euro 2004. The forlorn looking "busker" hunched outside Betty's had attached an England flag to his tin whistle the other day.

THE fame of York Ghostfinder General Rachel Lacy grows.

She can now be seen adorning the pages of a special "entente cordiale" edition of magazine Paris Match.

For some odd reason, the article is written entirely in French. In the language of love, Rachel is lyrically transformed into the "chasseuse de fantmes" and talks eloquently about "une sance de spiritisme dans l'arrire salle du Golden Fleece, un des plus vieux htels de York."

Whoooo-la-la, as they say across the Channel.

CONGRATULATIONS to Richard Whiteley, whose award of an OBE restores credibility to Britain's much-mocked honours system.

Our reporter Alex Lloyd caught up with "Twice Nightly" Whiteley at - where else - York Races. Richard asked Alex to borrow her comb because he wanted to look his best for the picture, but surprisingly declined her offer of lipstick.

Then his TV sidekick Carol Voderman rang to congratulate him.

And guess what tune Richard has as his mobile phone ring tone?

Yep, that's right... the Countdown theme music.

The Queen must be counting the hours until the ceremony.

Updated: 09:38 Monday, June 14, 2004