Page last updated at 10:47 GMT, Friday, 19 June 2009 11:47 UK

Setanta payment deadline looming

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Setanta has until the end of Friday to pay the next instalment of the £30m it owes the English Premier League, or risk losing its games for next season.

The League has threatened to sell the rights to the 46 live matches Setanta is supposed to be showing in the 2009/2010 season to the highest bidder.

Setanta has been struggling to make its payments to the sporting bodies from which it buys television rights.

It is currently in talks about possible outside investment.

Setanta is running at an estimated loss of £100m a year, after missing subscriber targets.

Due diligence

Earlier this week Setanta reopened its website to new subscribers - having closed it for several days.

US investor Len Blavatnik
Mr Blavatnik has been studying Setanta's books

Late last week, Access Industries, controlled by the US investor Len Blavatnik, tabled a £20m bid for a 51% share in Setanta.

He and other investors have been carrying out intense "due diligence" - examination of Setanta's books - which should be complete later on Friday.

There have also been reports that Dutch media firm Endemol and other investors are interested in taking a stake of up to 49% in the company.

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Guinness Premiership rugby union (from 2010)

Meanwhile, Balderton Capital, Doughty Hanson and Goldman Sachs - the three investment organisations which own close to half of the Irish broadcaster - have yet to reveal whether they are prepared to pump in more money to keep Setanta afloat.

Of the £30m Setanta is believed to owe the Premier League - to cover the 2009/2010 season, it is understood that it paid £10m on 12 June. Another £10m is due on Friday, with the balance due in July.

'Interested in rights'

Deloitte has been lined up as administrator if Setanta's efforts to secure long-term finance fail.

If Setanta does not pay the money on Friday, the Premier League would then regain control of its television rights at 2300GMT and put Setanta's 46 games up for auction. Interested bidders would have to make an offer by Monday, the BBC understands.

Several broadcasters may be interested in the rights, including Disney-owned sports broadcaster ESPN. It lost out on the 2010 to 2013 Premier League rights when they were up for grabs earlier this year.

"We are aware that the Premier League has issued an invitation to tender for which the rights may or may not go to auction next Monday," said an ESPN spokesman.

"As we have always said, we continue to be interested in rights where they are available and where they make business sense".

The Irish broadcaster's predicament has also affected the Scottish Premier League after it defaulted on a payment of £3m for part of last season's coverage fees.

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