Setanta Sports was an international sports broadcaster based in Dublin, Ireland. Setanta Sports was formed in 1990 to facilitate the broadcasting of Irish sporting events to Irish expatriates. Today, the channel operates individual channels in Ireland, the United States, Canada, Africa and Australia.
The beginning of the end…
According to the official Registre de Commerce et des Sociétés of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, the most recent annual accounts lodged by Setanta Sports S.a.r.l. indicated losses of 173 million Euros. Reports on 7 June 2009 suggested Setanta could be forced into administration that week after failing to make payments due on TV rights. The Sunday Times and the Sunday Telegraph reported Deloitte is on standby to administrator if the firm does not agree a rescue with its investors. The Irish firm, which showed England’s 4-0 World Cup win away to Kazakhstan the previous Saturday, is struggling to pay cash owed to football associations including the Scottish Premier League under its rights deals. Due to late payment and renegotiation over fees by Setanta to football clubs, several UK football clubs were put into financial difficullties as money promised had been spent in annual budgets. On 4 June 2009, the Scottish Premier League announced they would be paying the sums in lieu that some of the clubs were owed to avoid causing them financial problems.
On 19 June 2009, Setanta Sports failed to pay the latest instalment of £30 million it owes the English Premier League. The Premier League will now sell the rights to the 46 live matches Setanta had for the 2009/10 season. A Premier League spokesman said, “It is with considerable regret that we announce that Setanta has been unable to meet their obligations. As such the existing licence agreement between us has been terminated with immediate effect.”
On 20 June 2009, the Daily Mail reported that a rescue deal had failed and “administration now looks inevitable”.
On 22 June 2009, it was reported on RTE News that the original Setanta Sports channel Setanta Ireland may be bought out by an existing consortium who already hold interests in Setanta Sport Holdings Ltd the Irish arm of Setanta Sports. Setanta Sports Ireland and Setanta Sports North America were the only brands which made a profit in 2008.
On 22 June 2009, Setanta lost all their Scottish Premier League TV rights due to not being able to pay the £3m owed to the Scottish Premier League. Following this, it was announced that ESPN had bought the rights to show the 46 Premier League games bought by Setanta next season.
On 23 June 2009, the company went into administration following failure to make payments to a number of sporting organisations. About 200 employees will be made redundant. The administration is to be handled by Deloitte.
The last day…
Setanta Sports News closed at 6pm on the 24th June 2009 . The broadcaster’s other wholly owned channels, including Setanta Sports 1 and 2, went off air around the same time. Racing UK will remain on-air as a standalone package, and viewers in Ireland are unaffected by this news as Setanta Ireland has not gone into administration. The administrator Deloitte said that it would shortly cease broadcasting to customers in Great Britain but would continue to operate elsewhere. They said they would also immediately stop collecting subscription payments. Two hundred employees involved with the British operations have been made redundant. More on this story as it develops this afternoon. Setanta chairman Sir Robin Miller has said in a statement “This is a sad day for all concerned. Since its inspired inception a number of years ago, Setanta and its financial backers, have invested hundreds of millions of pounds buying UK and international sports rights. With the hard work and dedication of its staff, a pay TV broadcaster was created which entertained people in three million homes with top-class sport. “Unfortunately, in a difficult and highly competitive market, and despite strenuous efforts by the board and management, it has not been possible to find sufficient additional funds in the time available to ensure its survival.”