Cash-strapped Setanta at risk of administration

Cash-strapped sports broadcaster Setanta could be forced into administration this week after failing to make payments due on television rights, according to reports yesterday.

Deloitte are on stand-by to act as administrator for the firm unless they agree a last-minute rescue with their investors.

The Irish firm, who televised England's 4-0 World Cup qualifying win away to Kazakhstan on Saturday afternoon, are reportedly struggling to pay cash owed to football associations under their rights deals.

Setanta – for whom no one was available for comment yesterday – has about 1.2 million customers but this is well below the 1.9 million subscribers they need to break even.

If the company fails to cut their rights payments or raise more cash from investors and fall into administration, it could trigger a fire-sale of television rights, including the England national team's away qualifiers and some FA Cup matches.

ITV and Setanta won the contract from the Football Association in 2007 before the recession hit, impacting on advertising revenues.

The FA are said to have rebuffed attempts by Setanta to reduce their £150m share of the £425m four-year deal by 25 per cent.

Setanta also have rights to screen matches from the Premier League, who are awaiting a £35m payment later this month, according to yesterday's reports.

Last week they failed to pay the £3m owed to the Scottish Premier League under the final instalment of this season's TV deal, and have until tomorrow to come up with the cash.

They have also been seeking to cut the price of their current £125m deal with the SPL, who have agreed to pay the £3m outstanding from funds to their 12 member clubs to ease the financial pressure.

The founders of the business, Irishmen Michael O'Rourke and Leonard Ryan, set up Setanta in 1990.

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