UPDATE! Setanta files for bankruptcy... Click here
ESPN has taken full advantage of Setanta’s precarious financial situation by purchasing the rights to broadcast 46 English Premier League games in the UK for the 2009-2010 season.
Setanta was unable to come up with the £10 million down payment to secure the 46-game package and The Premier league confirmed last week that it was open to offers for the contract.
"We are clearly delighted that our bid for exclusive media rights to the Barclays Premier League matches in the UK has been successful," said ESPN Managing Director in Europe, Middle East and Africa Lynne Frank.
ESPN also was awarded the 23 match package that Setanta had for the three seasons after next. Richard Scudamore, Premier league Chief Executive, was happy to strike a partnership with the American company, which is owned by The Walt Disney Corporation.
"The Premier League is extremely pleased to have added ESPN as a UK rights holder. They have a formidable worldwide reputation and experience in sports and I am sure we will enjoy a long and fruitful relationship with them."
The news of ESPN’s move came on another bad day for Setanta Sports. The Scottish Premier League confirmed today that the Irish-run broadcaster has lost the rights to broadcast SPL games and that that contract was up for grabs.
'Setanta has been unable to meet our extended deadline for the outstanding £3m payment to the SPL and, in terms of the notice previously issued, our British broadcasting rights for season 2009/10 and beyond revert to us,” said Lex Gold , SPL executive chairman.
Setanta still owns to rights to US PGA golf, the FA Cup, the English Guinness Premiership and certain England soccer international games.
However, the loss of both the EPL and SPL matches leaves Setanta in a precarious position, with fears that the the company, which employs 200 in Ireland and 430 in total, could go into administration.