Setanta on crucial deadline

Chris Forrester

The English soccer Premier League has issued a formal invitation to tender for the 46 games currently contracted to Setanta from the start of the upcoming season. The move is not a good one for financially troubled Setanta.

The premiership said it "would like to provide Setanta with as much time as possible to rearrange its finances" but added that with the start of the 2009-10 season just "two months away" a prompt resolution was crucial. Listings magazines, as well as the assorted video contractors, needed to know what was happening. The Premiere League has given Setanta until this coming Friday to pay its outstanding debts - or else.

The interested parties are limited. BSkyB could bid for 50% of the games. Sky cannot take more than 5 out of the 6 bundles assembled by the League, under EU rules. ESPN is reportedly interested despite its lack of enthusiasm to absorb Setanta itself.

However, there is good news on the Setanta home front: it is again taking subscriptions, suggesting that there's considerably more confidence at the broadcaster than this time last week.

One Setanta director has quit, to avoid a potential conflict of interest. Barry Maloney stepped down because he is a lead partner with venture capital group Balderton Capital, which owns more than 20% of Setanta.