Page last updated at 14:25 GMT, Friday, 5 June 2009 15:25 UK

SPL pays up in lieu of TV money

Setanta cameras capture the action
Setanta has not made its final payment to the SPL for this season

The Scottish Premier League is to pay £3m to 12 member clubs from its own funds to tide them over in lieu of money owed by broadcaster Setanta.

Cash-strapped Setanta was due to make the final payment of the season on Monday for its football match coverage.

But, after a second board meeting in three days, the SPL has decided to dip into its own coffers to prevent any clubs facing financial difficulties.

Meanwhile, negotiations between the SPL and Setanta will continue this weekend.

The broadcaster, which last year agreed to pay £125m over four seasons for extending its exclusive live coverage from 2010, has been attempting to renegotiate a number of its contracts because of cash-flow problems.

That followed the loss of one of its contracts with the Barclays Premier League in England.

Estimates suggest that up to £20m could be wiped off the value of that increased deal, but the apparent inability to meet one of the demands of their present £13.5m annual contract raises further fears.

The SPL board has had updates from its financial and legal advisers and will see what develops over the next 48 hours.

And it could theoretically terminate its contract with the broadcaster as early as next week.

A television deal is vital to support the economy of Scottish top-flight football.

Several Premier League clubs are thought to be financially reliant on the TV money to keep themselves afloat.

Advertisers pay handsomely for shirt sponsorship and pitch-side displays on the basis that they will have their brand and products shown in hundreds of thousands of homes through television coverage.

Losing a television deal would not only leave the SPL as a whole the poorer but also make a substantial dent in many clubs' finances.

Setanta first won the rights to broadcast live SPL matches in competition with previous rights holder BBC Scotland in 2004.

However it is unlikely that a free-to-air terrestrial broadcaster could now come close to matching the kind of money offered by Setanta for live coverage of Scotland's top-flight.

BBC Scotland has been broadcasting SPL match highlights on television and the internet while looking to buy up rights to live matches involving Scottish clubs in European competitions.

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