Cable company dumps pay-per-view deal

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The Independent Online

US cable company NTL has pulled out of a £325m deal to show live pay-per-view Premiership football.

US cable company NTL has pulled out of a £325m deal to show live pay-per-view Premiership football.

It was already won the rights to screen 40 games per season for three years just three months ago.

But NTL today confirmed it had failed to reach agreement with the league on finalizing the contract, which was to go into effect at the start of next season.

"Naturally we are very disappointed that we have not been able to complete negotiations under terms which both we and the Premier League found satisfactory," said NTL chief executive officer Barclay Knapp.

The league is expected to re-open bidding for a new pay-per-view contract.

Richard Scudamore, chief executive of the FA Premier League, said: "We respect the fact that NTL have reached this decision.

"We all worked long and hard at it in good faith and there is always an element of disappointment in the commercial world when you cannot reach an agreement.

"The outlook for the FA Premier League is, however, very positive. We are very confident that we still have a very valuable asset and we shall this afternoon set about reselling it. We are looking to maximise what we can get for this piece of the pie.

"If you look at me, you can see I am not sitting here with a disappointed look on my face.

"It is like selling your house and putting a board outside which says: 'sold, subject to contract'. If the contract is not signed you still have your house and you try to resell it.

"I have spoken to several Premier League club chairmen and they are very realistic. They accept and understand that these things prevail in the world of business."

The 20 Premiership club chairmen will have an immediate chance to debate the issue as they gather tomorrow in London for one of their monthly committee meetings.

NTL has been a major player in British soccer, having bought substantial stakes in a number of clubs, including Newcastle United and Aston Villa.

The company also has a joint sponsorship deal with Scottish Premier League clubs Celtic and Rangers.

The collapse of the NTL deal does not affect BSkyB's £1.1bn contract to screen live games on Sunday afternoons and Monday evenings.

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