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Page last updated at 15:12 GMT, Sunday, 21 June 2009 16:12 UK

Inverness cuts 'warning to SPL'

Player with Setanta sign
Setanta Sports may have broadcast its last live football

Inverness Caledonian Thistle have been forced to make staff cuts after their relegation but predict greater woe for some of their former SPL rivals.

Setanta's Premier League broadcasting rights in England are expected to be handed to rival broadcasters on Monday.

And that will put the company - and its contract with the Scottish Premier League - in danger of collapse.

Inverness chairman George Fraser told BBC Scotland: "I would have been more nervous if we were still in the SPL."

Caley Thistle are guaranteed a £350,000 parachute payment from the SPL after dropping into Division One.

But the clubs remaining in the SPL stand to lose much of the money promised from Setanta - and which some will have budgeted for - in the coming seasons.

"A few big decisions will be made early this week as Setanta are not going to be in the same shape come Monday or Tuesday," said Fraser.

The club has been forced to downsize after facing a reduction in income of nearly 60%

Inverness CT chairman George Fraser

"Every club will be reflecting on their financial position."

Fraser believes that, had they avoided relegation, Inverness would have been in better shape to cope with the loss of broadcasting funds than a number of their rivals, who are heavily in debt.

"We restructured a couple of years ago," he said. "But, if we had a lot of debt in the SPL, I would be very, very worried if the Setanta money was not going to be there."

SPL clubs received anything between £900,000 and £3.5m - the more successful ones being at the higher end of that scale - in the past season as a result of the Setanta deal.

Fraser hoped that clubs at the lower end of the SPL would not need to revert to part-time football.

"I still think there is enough money in the game to keep them full-time," he said.

One SPL chairman told BBC Scotland that he had high hopes that another broadcaster would be willing to take Setanta's place, even though it was unlikely to be willing to match the Irish broadcaster's four-year £125m deal due to start in season 2010/11.

Fraser expected that the SPL would have considered such a fall-back position.

The Inverness chairman thought it unlikely that Celtic and Rangers, the major box-office attractions in the SPL, would attempt to sell their broadcasting rights alone.

"They are massive clubs, but they need competition and need other clubs to be playing at a certain standard," said Fraser.

Inverness announced that, following consultation, some roles had had to be reduced in hours, some staff had agreed to salary reductions while there would be some redundancies.

Director of football Graeme Bennett is no longer receiving a salary, while the position of chief executive had been scrapped and replaced with the title general manager, with Mike Smith continuing in that role after agreeing a reduced salary.

Head of youth and community Danny Macdonald had, meanwhile, "chosen to leave the club", according to Fraser.

"He has left a very good structure in place which we intend to build upon as an integral part of the club," said Fraser.

"It is more important than ever that we try to maintain the youth and community section to develop our own players.

"We appreciate the staff's understanding of our new financial constraints."

However, Fraser said that, while the club would continue to be involved at all levels from Under-11 to Under-17 level, the loss of £90,000 from the SPL meant that they had to withdraw from their present Under-19 commitments and pursue other options.

"The club has been forced to downsize after facing a reduction in income of nearly 60%, but we are stable because we have no debt and the support of the fans, through season ticket and commercial sales, has been very positive," he added.

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see also
Setanta loses Premier TV rights
19 Jun 09 |  Business
Setanta payment deadline looming
19 Jun 09 |  Business
Dens signing Griffiths eyes title
26 Jun 09 |  Dundee
Premier League's Setanta deadline
15 Jun 09 |  Business
Endemol to discuss Setanta stake
15 Jun 09 |  Business
Inverness sign up Leicester's Cox
11 Jun 09 |  Inverness CT
Foulkes warns of SPL bankruptcies
10 Jun 09 |  Scottish Premier
Last-ditch effort to save Setanta
09 Jun 09 |  Business
ESPN: 'No current Setanta plans'
11 Jun 09 |  Business
Setanta halts new subscriptions
10 Jun 09 |  Business
Why Setanta Sports is in trouble
09 Jun 09 |  Business
Inverness pair join Ross County
03 Jun 09 |  Ross County

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