In sports, Setanta sizzles…is it time to sell?

By Kevin Hilton

SVG Europe editor

The hottest property in European sports broadcasting right now is not
going to be sold off, at least not in the near future. The owners of
Setanta Sports have confirmed that, although several offers have been
received, there are no plans to sell the company, despite its present
high currency in a troubled market.

There has been a flurry of
speculation regarding a take-over of the Irish broadcaster since last
autumn. Among those rumoured to be vying to be the new owner of Setanta
were BT (British Telecom), UK commercial broadcaster ITV, although it
recently posted disappointing figures, and US sports channel ESPN.

its beginnings 18 years ago as a specialist in Celtic sports such as
Gaelic football Setanta has moved into Association Football and boxing,
breaking the monopolies held by ITV and, most important of all, BSkyB.
Among other sports Setanta broadcasts live coverage of Scottish and
English Premier League football, the latter shared with Sky.

has also expanded into Australia, Canada and the US, making it a major
player in international sports broadcasting and so an attractive
proposition for broadcasters and media and investment groups looking to
capitalise on the ever growing popularity of televised sport.

February the founders of Setanta, Leonard Ryan and Michael O’Rourke,
told staff that although advances had been made they had not put the
company up for sale. A spokeswoman told SVG that if a “great offer”
were made it would be considered but confirmed Setanta was not on the

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