Lifeline for BSP?

Blue Square Premier clubs could be thrown a financial lifeline upon the news that struggling broadcaster Setanta are in talks with a new investor. US businessman Leonard Blavatnik s company, Access Industries, has confirmed it is in talks to take a major

Blue Square Premier clubs could be thrown a financial lifeline upon the news that struggling broadcaster Setanta are in talks with a new investor.

US businessman Leonard Blavatnik's company, Access Industries, has confirmed it is in talks to take a majority stake in the Irish pay-TV business, which dishes out a minimum of �70,000 a year in television revenue to Conference clubs as part of Setanta's five-year contract.

There are fears that a Setanta collapse would leave clubs looking at the prospect of filling a gaping hole in their budgets but Blavatnik is reported to have offered �20m for a 51 per cent stake in Setanta, which could keep the broadcaster afloat.

A statement from Blavatnik's company said: "Access Industries can confirm it has submitted a proposal to the board of Setanta to acquire a majority interest in Setanta, refinancing the company.


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"The offer is subject to a number of pre-conditions being met, but we believe the proposal would secure the future of the broadcaster for customers, football and employees."

The offer comes after both Sky and American sports network ESPN announced they would not be making a bid for Setanta, which is reportedly losing �100m a year after attracting just 1.2 million of the 1.9 million subscribers needed for the company to break even and negotiating crippling contracts with the Premier League and the Scottish Premier League.

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Setanta are due to make a �30m payment to the Premier League today but it is understood they would be willing to wait for the money until a rescue deal is completed.

Stevenage Boro boss Graham Westley admitted in his column for the Non League Paper that he had contacted chairman Phil Wallace amid concerns he could be faced with a financial shortfall if Setanta went under.

But if Access Industries decide to continue with their interest after examining the books of Setanta then Westley's worries, along with those of the league itself, could be allayed.

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