Setanta edged one step closer to administration last night after it missed its deadline to make a £10m payment to the Premier League, triggering a loss of its rights to broadcast football fixtures next season.
The Premier League said it was with "considerable regret" that Setanta had been unable to meet its obligations and that the licence agreement between the two had been "terminated with immediate effect".
The football authority said that it would go ahead and market the 46 UK live matches for the 2009-10 season. ESPN, the US sports cable channel owned by Walt Disney, is expected to bid for the rights.
Loss of the rights could be fatal for Setanta because Premier League football is the main attraction for many subscribers. It faces a wave of cancellations. Setanta, which declined to comment, is widely expected to appoint administrators and Deloitte is understood to have been lined up.