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Page last updated at 12:33 GMT, Friday, 17 April 2009 13:33 UK

SPL clubs face reduced TV money

Celtic's Stephen McManus and Rangers' Barry Ferguson promote Setanta coverage
Setanta has been broadcasting live SPL games since 2004

Scotland's Premier League clubs are facing a reduction in television revenue, with Setanta renegotiating its contract for future seasons.

Setanta, whose current deal to show SPL games ends next term, last year agreed to pay £125m over four seasons for exclusive live coverage from 2010.

But the company now wants to reduce its financial commitment.

An SPL spokesman would only say: "We're in touch with Setanta and they are keeping us up to date."

Talks have been ongoing for several weeks, but the spokesman refused to confirm or deny whether the SPL's 12 member clubs would be meeting next week to discuss Setanta's proposals to change the terms of the deal.

Setanta, which won the rights to broadcast the SPL from the BBC in 2004, admits that it is hoping to re-negotiate all its future contracts.

That follows the terms of their contract with England's Premier League, which turned out to be less lucrative than it had hoped for.

Anything like this represents a change in direction that could undermine the whole effort to improve the game in Scotland and therefore is bad news

Motherwell manager Mark McGhee

Motherwell manager Mark McGhee said the television money is critical to the future of the SPL and feared that any attempt to re-negotiate the deal would harm the game in Scotland.

"I think that, rather than negotiating downwards, we were hoping that, over the next years, it would be going up and up - that we would be be able to add more value to the games and therefore demand more in terms of TV rights to help put better teams on the pitch and it would therefore be an upward spiral.

"Anything like this represents a change in direction that could undermine the whole effort to improve the game in Scotland and therefore is bad news."

Falkirk chief executive George Craig said that his club earn in excess of £1m per year from the SPL, the majority of that through television revenue.

"For any SPL club, not just Falkirk, that would have a significant bearing going forward preparing budgets because the Setanta contract is a very important one for the SPL," he said.

Celtic manager Gordon Strachan, though, suggests that any reduction in television revenue would have no bearing on his transfer budget.

However, he is concerned at the impact this may have on other clubs in Scotland.

Price Waterhouse Coopers football finance expert David Glenn agreed that the impact would be greater on the smaller clubs.

"If you take Motherwell, for example, the television contract is about a quarter of their income and a reduction would be quite significant for them," he said.

"For Celtic and Rangers, with income of £50-60m, a couple of million here and there, while not nice, equally they can cope with that."

Glenn said the impact on the SPL as a whole would depend on the size of the renegotiation.

"Let's look at it in context. They last re-negotiated in 2006 for a deal for four years at just over £51m, about £13m a season," he said.

"So they were more than doubling that. That was going to equate to over £30m a season. That was looking a good deal.

"You don't miss what you have never had and, if they are saying that they will continue to pay what they have already been paying, that might not be so bad."

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see also
SFL chief is bullish about future
17 Apr 09 |  Scottish League

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