League gives Setanta ultimatum

Pay TV company must pay debt by June 19

LONDON — Struggling Irish paybox Setanta has been given until Friday to meet its financial commitments to English soccer’s Premier League or have the rights sold off to competitors.

The latest deadline emerged Monday as Setanta announced on its website that it is again accepting new subscriptions.

In a statement, the Premier League indicated it will sell Setanta’s 46 live matches for the next season of English soccer unless the company pays money owed to the league by the end of the week.

It said: “Although the Premier League would like to provide Setanta with as much time as possible to re-arrange its finances, the start of the 2009-10 season is only two months away, with the release of fixtures imminent.

“Accordingly, the Premier League has notified Setanta that if necessary the existing license agreement between us will be terminated, coming into effect if Setanta does not meet certain contractual requirements of the Premier League on or before June 19.”

Setanta, which is attempting to put new funding in place to stave off administration, last week stopped accepting new subscribers. But today the company announced that it is “taking subscriptions from new customers … both online at http://www.setanta.com and at our call centers.”

The paybox is considering a deal from U.S. businessman Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries, reported to be offering $33 million for a 51% stake.

Global production giant Endemol, which is moving into sport, has also been linked with an investment.

The company’s CEO Ynon Kreiz is familiar with Setanta’s business. Prior to joining Endemol he worked at private equity firm Benchmark Capital, one of Setanta’s original backers.