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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 February, 2004, 13:47 GMT
Setanta wins SPL TV deal
SPL executive chairman Lex Gold arrives at the meeting
SPL executive chairman Lex Gold arrives at the meeting
The Scottish Premier League has approved an exclusive four-year deal with the pay-per-view sports channel Setanta to broadcast live games.

A late, increased, money-matching BBC bid was rejected and it means Setanta will screen 38 live games per season on digital, satellite and cable platforms.

SPL clubs also approved an exclusive four-year deal for radio and online rights with the BBC.

League executive chairman Lex Gold said: "This is not a gamble."

BBC Scotland had increased their bid to roughly match Setanta's on Wednesday evening, but some of the 12 SPL clubs blame live coverage on terrestrial television for declining attendances.

They instead voted to accept a subscription-driven deal, worth 35m, with the Irish company starting next season for the showing of live games across the UK and Eire, with matches kicking-off at 1500GMT on Sundays.

We have now got, for four years, a level of certainty that wasn't there before
SPL executive chairman Lex Gold
Setanta will also be able to show 10 Saturday games on pay-per-view in the Republic of Ireland only.

Cash will be distributed on the basis of league placings, with the top two clubs each year taking 32% of the total between them.

Gold has no fears about suffering problems experiences by England's Nationwide League, when the collapse of a pay-per-view scheme helped plunge many clubs into financial difficulties.

"We discussed the ITV digital scenario for a long time, but this isn't the same - this is company which already has a base in covering Scottish football," he said.

"We've looked at their numbers needed to make this fly and, let me make it clear, the numbers are something like half the subscribers we were looking at for the proposed SPL television deal a few years ago.

"The numbers needed for that were 200,000 and this is less, so the business case stacks up.

"A contingency plan will be part of the long-term agreement that we have with them.

"We will move forward with our remaining packages, including highlights over the season and new media."

Gold claimed that the deal would be a welcome boost for SPL clubs' ailing finances.

"This is a good day for Scottish football," he said. "What we are seeking to do is get a financial platform so that clubs can continue to deal with the financial problems that they face.

"We have now got, for four years, a level of certainty that wasn't there before.

"At the last board meeting, we had some consumer test evidence that we presented to the clubs and that indicated that the current coverage was having an effect on gates.

"It wasn't the only impact - but that was major. The clubs are looking jointly at how they will encourage more people through the gates and this is part of the package."

SPL director of marketing Stewart Thomson also revealed that the league had agreed a new six-figure, three-year deal with Mitre for the provision of footballs for the SPL.

BBC welcomes radio deal
26 Feb 04  |  Scottish Premier

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