Page last updated at 16:46 GMT, Tuesday, 23 June 2009 17:46 UK

Q&A: Setanta, me and my sport

Hull City v Man Utd
Setanta has been brought down by a number of factors

Setanta Sports has gone into administration after failing to make a number of payments to sporting organisations.

So what does this mean for you and the sports with which its business model is so entwined?

I am a Setanta subscriber. Is all coverage going to stop?

The administrators Deloitte say that the business will shortly cease broadcasting to its customers in Great Britain.

The administrators say that people who pay monthly will have had most of their money's worth for their June payment, but there will not be any refunds - the company has no cash.

Subscription payments to the Great Britain service have been stopped, and the administrators say Setanta customers should go to or phone 0871 200 6203 for further information.

Setanta Ireland will cover broadcasting in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. There are different levels of coverage available in Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland, and the full programme content "will be advised in due course".

More details are available for these customers at

The Great Britain business will be wound down and 200 employees of this company will lose their jobs.

The Setanta International and Setanta Ireland businesses will remain on air, and talks are continuing to find buyers for these two as going concerns.

BT Vision had already stopped selling Setanta to new customers. But it says it is in discussions with ESPN - which now has Setanta's English Premier League rights - to bring those matches to BT Vision customers.

It urges customers to hold onto their BT Vision/Setanta viewing card, and adds "there is no reason to call in".

Any BT Vision customers who were paying for Setanta Sports will see their charges stopped and any advance payments refunded. Customer updates are at:

What about the television rights that Setanta has bought?

The firm owed £20m of the £30m that was due to the Premier League to show 46 of next season's games.

Because it was in breach of that contract, the rights reverted back to the Premier League which made them available for other bidders.

Disney-owned ESPN has bought the rights to show the 46 games Setanta was due to broadcast in next season's English Premier League.

Player with Setanta sign
Setanta Sports broadcast SPL games for many years

It has also won the rights to the 23 games a season that Setanta was due to show for three seasons from 2010/11.

ESPN says it has struck a deal with Sky for its coverage to be sold to residential and commercial customers and are in talks with other platforms including Virgin Media.

The Scottish Premier League (SPL) has also taken back its broadcasting rights from Setanta.

It is seeking a new television broadcasting deal after Setanta failed to meet a deadline to pay £3m as part of its contract.

Setanta last year agreed to pay £125m over four seasons to extend its deal with the SPL beyond 2010, but SPL chairman Lex Gold said the Irish firm had missed an extended deadline and the league was now seeking a new broadcast partner.

Other parties with broadcasting deals with Setanta in Great Britain, such as the Football Association and Guinness Premiership rugby union, will also now be looking for new broadcast partners for their sporting rights.

Administrators Deloitte say that: "Setanta sought to make significant reductions in its cost base by measures that included renegotiating its agreements with commercial partners and rights holders.

"Although progress was made, the improvements achieved were insufficient to ensure the business could become profit-making."

So are sporting bodies going to miss out on cash?

For its part, the Premier League says it is not out of pocket. It is understood some money had been put into an escrow fund - acting as a kind of guarantee should its post-Setanta deals not match those earlier Setanta deals.

This means that there should be little impact on the revenue of clubs for next season.

However, beyond that, analysts think it is unlikely that sporting organisations will be able to raise the same amount of cash that they were promised when the Setanta deals were done.

Setanta has not made its final payment to the SPL for this season
Setanta has other sports rights that will now be up for grabs

Many of those deals were done before the full impact of the economic downturn.

According to an estimate by Citibank, Setanta paid about £85m annually for rights for the Scottish Premier League, the Football Association (England games and the FA Cup), boxing and the US PGA golf tour.

These rights will be resold and, given the economic climate, the rights costs could "more than halve", according to Citibank analyst Marc Sugarman.

This could affect how much cash filters down to different sports - from top level to grass roots.

Professor Tom Cannon, an expert on sports financing from Liverpool University, told the Financial Times recently that it would be "very hard to replace Setanta at anything like the rates they are paying currently.

"The ripples from the disappearance of Setanta would spread very broadly."

Which sports organisations could be most affected?

There have been warnings that without Setanta's cash, some Scottish football clubs could face bankruptcy.

Setanta also had a four-year deal negotiated alongside ITV to broadcast FA Cup and England international matches runs until July 2012.

The BBC understands that under the terms of the contract, ITV was obliged to pick up Setanta's eight remaining England home friendly matches at a pre-arranged reduced price if the Irish broadcaster failed.

The FA Cup may be more problematic, but it is understood the FA would approach ITV in the first instance to see if it wants to take over any live games. If ITV was not interested, it would approach other broadcasters - both terrestrial and subscription.

How did the price of sports broadcasting rights get so high?

The price of desirable rights such as the Premier League and top-flight rugby has risen largely because Sky wants to keep its audience, and so it is prepared to pay top prices to secure the best events which are so central to its business.

Setanta wanted coverage of the Guinness Premiership rugby union tournament, but it had to pay £54m over four years just to share it with BSkyB from next year.

And analysts generally agree that Setanta vastly overpaid in its £125m deal with the Scottish Premier League over five years.

Print Sponsor

Setanta goes into administration
23 Jun 09 |  Business
ESPN buys rights to Setanta games
22 Jun 09 |  Business
SPL seeks new television contract
22 Jun 09 |  Scottish Premier
Setanta live games up for grabs
22 Jun 09 |  Business
BT Vision stops selling Setanta
21 Jun 09 |  Business
Setanta loses Premier TV rights
19 Jun 09 |  Business

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