ITV Digital withdraws 'final' settlement offer

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The Independent Online

ITV Digital appeared to be on the brink of liquidation last night after the company's solicitors faxed the Football League and said that all offers to solve the contract crisis between the two had expired.

"The fax effectively said that there were no offers on the table," a League spokesman said. "We now have nothing to put to our clubs when we meet." Representatives from the League's 72 clubs are due to meet in Manchester today and were going to vote on whether to accept a £74m deal for the remaining two years of the League's contract with ITV Digital.

The broadcaster owes the League £178.5m for the next two years but had said the £74m offer was final. That offer has now expired, sources within ITV Digital said, and prospects for any settlement look bleak.

ITV Digital could now go into liquidation within days, leaving the League with none of the money it is owed. If that happens, the League is likely to press ahead with its threat to sue ITV Digital's co-owners, Carlton and Granada, for £500m. The League believes the media giants are legally liable for ITV Digital's debts. Carlton and Granada have repeatedly insisted this is not the case.

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