ESPN-Sky launch joint bid for SPL rights
Saturday, July 4 2009,
By Andrew Laughlin
ESPN and Sky have reportedly made a joint move for TV rights to show Scottish Premier League (SPL) games for the coming season.
Setanta Sports recently lost the SPL rights after it had defaulted on a £3 million payment to the league.
The broadcaster was in the final year of its contract with the league, while it had also agreed a new four-year deal at a reported cost of £125 million.
However, a source close to the deal told The Independent that the ESPN-Sky joint bid could be up to £40 million below that figure.
Despite this, it is believed that the bid will be welcome news to the smaller SPL clubs, especially as the league previously relied heavily on Setanta for its TV income.
While not commenting directly on the bid, an ESPN spokesman said: "As we continue to say, we are interested in rights where they are available and where they make business sense.
"But as we've not confirmed whether we have or have not bid, clearly we have no comment on this new speculation".
If the deal does go through, it is unclear as yet whether ESPN will be able to make the SPL content available on other TV platforms.
Meanwhile, Sky has this week agreed to continue carriage of Setanta Ireland so that negotiations can go ahead to save the sports broadcaster in the country.