Football Management

Commentary on the management of over 160 English football clubs by Dr John Beech, winner of the FSF Writer of the Year Award 2009/10 Twitter: @JohnBeech Curator of! Football Finance

Setanta struggle on

Posted by John Beech on May 5, 2009

In my posting of 20 April A bursting bubble?, I noted that Setanta were trying to renegotiate the contract for the Scottish Premier League broadcasting rights – for seasons yet to commence.

Clearly Setanta are under pressure as they are now seeking to renegotiate football broadcasting rights contracts south of the border (1). The broadcaster had been hamstrung by failing to get as many of the lucrative Premier League games as it would have liked, and instead had to opt for a shared deal with ITV for England international matches and the FA Cup (2).

Coming relatively late into the English football market, Ireland-based Setanta had picked up the crumbs which Sky was not interested in, such as a five-year contract signed in 2006 to broadcast Football Conference matches (3). Tom Lehrer famously sang “Second fiddle’s a hard part I know, when they don’t even give you a bow”. Setanta have a bow, but it is not in the same league as Sky’s.

It is worth recalling that the justification of the merger of British Satellite Broadcasting (BSB) into Sky to form BSkyB was that the UK satellite broadcasting market was too small to support two operators given the extremely high entry costs. To prevent a monopoly sports rights are now broken into smaller bundles and exclusivity is a dirty word.

Given the difficulties Setanta is facing however, it is far from clear that the issue of competition has been solved. Any collapse of Setanta would mean a reversion to a BSkyB monopoly, and serious problems for the Football Conference’s clubs.


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