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SPL seeks new television contract

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Gold explains the events that led to the end of the Setanta deal

The Scottish Premier League 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 missed an extended deadline.

"We are now actively engaging in the process of selling our domestic broadcasting rights for next season and beyond," he said.

At the beginning of the month, the SPL paid £3m to 12 member clubs from its own funds to tide them over in lieu of money owed by Setanta.

And the broadcaster lost the rights to televise English Premier League games last week after failing to pay the latest chunk of the £30m it still owed the league.

We are now in the market for selling those broadcasting rights for next season and beyond

SPL chairman Lex Gold

Gold said: "Setanta has been unable to meet our extended deadline for the outstanding £3m payment to the SPL and, in terms of the notice previously issued, our British broadcasting rights for season 2009/10 and beyond revert to us.

"We set three deadlines and we wanted to work with Setanta who have been a great partner of ours.

"They have spent £60m in supporting Scottish football and our board were determined to give them every possible chance to work through the problems that they had."

The SPL chairman added: "That process has been lengthy and intensive but the deadline today was the final deadline so our rights reverted to us as of 3pm today.

"So we are now in the market for selling those broadcasting rights for next season and beyond."

Setanta Sports may have broadcast its last live football
The SPL acted after Setanta failed to meet its payment deadline

Gold said he did not believe that any new deal would mean having to accept a lower fee.


"We have a product that is valuable in the marketplace and we will be seeking to see that value covered," he added.

"The clubs have been kept up to date on a regular basis so they are able to make prudent decisions."

Hearts managing director Campbell Ogilvie said the news was "disappointing" but stressed that the Edinburgh club was in good financial shape for the future.

"We now have an opportunity to create a new and rewarding broadcast partnership for the future of the Scottish Premier League," he said.

"The league is an excellent product and I am confident that there are significant tangible benefits for our future broadcast partners.

"Our wider prudence and an ongoing focus on increasing operational efficiencies and improving revenue streams is ensuring that Hearts is well prepared to weather this particular situation."

MY SPORT: DEBATE

A potential rescue deal, led by a US investor who had proposed buying 51% of Setanta, fell through last week.

The future of the Irish broadcasting firm is now in grave doubt, while BBC Scotland has not contacted the SPL over the possibility of broadcasting live games next season.

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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see also
Setanta live games up for grabs
22 Jun 09 |  Business
Inverness cuts 'warning to SPL'
21 Jun 09 |  Inverness CT
Setanta loses Premier TV rights
19 Jun 09 |  Business
Setanta payment deadline looming
19 Jun 09 |  Business
Why Setanta Sports is in trouble
09 Jun 09 |  Business
SPL faces D-Day for Setanta cash
04 Jun 09 |  Scottish Premier


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