Setanta woes worsen

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The Independent Online

Setanta suffered a fresh blow this morning as BT Vision suspended any further sales of Setanta Sports.

The board of the Irish broadcaster is meeting this morning to consider a last-ditch rescue package in a bid to stave off administration by selling off large chunks of the company.

BT Vision, the home digital TV service, has now moved to suspend any new sales.

"We are closely monitoring the situation with regard to the current position of Setanta Sports," BT Vision said in a statement.

"As a precaution we have currently suspended any further sales of Setanta Sports from this morning."

Setanta is still broadcasting but it is not now possible for new subscribers to sign up via their website either.

It emerged yesterday that BSkyB had refused a £50million lifeline to the Irish pay-TV broadcaster who are in crisis with a payment of more than £30million due to the Premier League this week and backers refusing to advance them any more money.

Sky's chief executive Jeremy Darroch said: "Our job is not to fund other companies.

"We have been talking to Setanta, and trying to work with them and help them.

"At the end of the day we are not a bank, we are a broadcaster, not a supplier of working capital to a business and rights holder.

"Our job is not to fund other companies. This is a huge amount of money."

Some Scottish Premier League clubs could be forced out of business if Setanta goes into administration, according to a former club chairman.

Labour peer Lord Foulkes, a former chairman of Hearts, believes the situation is very serious for members of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I think it puts the future of one or two SPL clubs in jeopardy. They are already struggling financially and this on top of it could be the tipping point.

"In some clubs it represents up to 20 per cent of their income and the loss of it would be really catastrophic."

Another broadcaster, ESPN, is favourite to step in and take over Setanta's Premier League games if they go into administration.