Broadcasters put together bids for Setanta live games
It was announced over the weekend that Irish pay-TV sports broadcaster Setanta had been unable to meet its financial obligations and had therefore lost its rights to broadcast 46 Premier League football matches next season.
As a result, broadcasters are now putting together bids for the live games and have a deadline of later today.
BSkyB and US sports broadcaster ESPN are the favourites to buy the rights to 23 games apiece.
EU legislation means that BSkyB cannot own all the rights.
Meanwhile, Disney-owned ESPN has refused to comment directly on whether it will bid for Premier League rights, but has said it is “interested in rights where they are available and where they make business sense”.
Setanta, which broadcasts football, cricket, golf and rugby union, has around 1.2 million subscribers. However, according to analysts, this is only about two-thirds of the number it needs and as a result the company is facing losses of up to £100 million a year.
The board is expected to meet today to explore other ways of saving the company. The company’s founders, Leonard Ryan and Michael O’Rourke, have been striving to fight off administration by trying to secure finance to keep the firm up and running. The company employs 430 people.
Setanta was considering a deal proposed by US investor Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries, who offered a £20 million bid for a 51% share in Setanta. However, talks broke down after “a number of issues” were not resolved.
Deloitte is on standby should the firm enter administration.
The Premier League expects to announce the victors of the auction of live games at the end of the week.