Rescue hopes for pay-tv Setanta

US-based tycoon Len Blavatnik is working on a £20 million 11th hour rescue deal for pay-television firm Setanta, it was reported today.

Mr Blavatnik is offering to buy 51 per cent of Setanta in a move that could help secure the future of the cash-strapped Irish firm as it seeks to stave off administration, according to reports.

The US investor is also said to have interests in Top-up TV, which is Freeview's pay-TV service.

Setanta declined to comment on the reported deal with Mr Blavatnik, although sources close to the company said it was still working hard on options to refinance the business.

It emerged earlier this week that BSkyB had refused a £50 million lifeline to Setanta, which faces a payment of more than £30 million due to the Premier League.

Backers including private equity firms Doughty Hanson and Balderton Capital, as well as Goldman Sachs, are reported to be refusing to advance the firm any more money.

Another broadcaster, ESPN, has so far distanced itself from reports that it may look to take over Setanta's Premier League games if the company goes into administration, although Setanta has only won one of the six live broadcast packages for 2010 to 2013.

Under a pre-arranged deal, ITV would take over the rights to up to eight England away friendlies for an agreed sum.