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Setanta Sports ( ) is an international sports broadcaster based in Dublinmarker, Irelandmarker.

Setanta Sports was formed in 1990 to facilitate the broadcasting of Irish sporting events to Irish expatriates. The channel operates individual channels in Ireland, the United Statesmarker, Canadamarker, Africa and Australia.

Setanta Sports previously operated channels in Great Britainmarker. These ceased broadcasting when Setanta Sports GB entered administration on 23 June 2009, following financial difficulties.

Origins of the channel's name

Joint Group CEOs Michael O'Rourke and Leonard Ryan are based in Dublin. The channel takes its name from the legendary Irish warrior Setanta, who reputedly played the oldest known field sport, hurling, and who was later given the name Cúchulainn as described in the ancient Irish texts of the Annals of Ulster.


  • Setanta Sports was formed in 1990 to facilitate the broadcasting of Irish sporting events to Irish expatriates
  • More recently the network has expanded and it now broadcasts an extensive array of top live sporting events aimed at international English-speaking audiences
  • Setanta Ireland's CEO is Niall Cogley, former Director of Sport at RTÉmarker
The company's headquarters is 4th Floor, Georges Quay House, 43 Townsend Street, Dublin 2, Ireland. Joint Group CEOs Michael O'Rourke and Leonard Ryan, COO Mark O'Meara and CFO Nigel Brennan are all based in that area.

New Ownership

As of 27 July 2009 the ownership structure of Setanta Sports Channel Ireland Limited (previously Setanta Sports Ireland Ltd) has changed. Setanta Sports Channel Ireland Limited is now co-owned by Gaiety Investments (60% share) with the remaining 40% share made up by Sabloss Limited. The main shareholders in Sabloss are Michael O’Rourke, Leonard Ryan and Mark O’Meara. Sabloss has also purchased 100% of the shares in Setanta Sports North America Limited. Both Setanta Sports Channel Ireland Limited and Setanta Sports North America Limited are licenced by the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland.


Setanta Sports offers commercial venues in several countries around the world programming of sports such as football (soccer), Gaelic football, hurling, golf, cricket, Australian rules football, rugby union and rugby league and boxing


In Ireland, Setanta Sports' Channels are available on a number of different platforms. Its flagship Channel Setanta Ireland is available for free on UPC Ireland's basic cable package and as a subscription service on Sky Digital. With Sky Digital subscribers receive the two Setanta Sports channels — Setanta Sports Ireland, Setanta Sports 1.

Setanta had been hoping to have a high-definition channel launched by August 2008, in time for the new Barclays Premier League season.

Recent Developments

Setanta Sports GB including joint venture Setanta Sports News and other channels ceased trading at 6pm on 22 June 2009 with the loss of jobs by staff associated with that section of the business following its difficulty in completing rights holder payments..Following evaluation over the weekend and on Monday 21 June 2009 it agreed to the appointment as board of Setanta Sports Holdings of Deloitte as administrators to the GB business.

Other parts of the business that are reportedly profitable such as Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland continue to trade and transmit, with some content rights affected by failure of the UK operation.

Those Setanta Sports operations still trading are:
  • Ireland (Setanta Ireland and Setanta Sports 1 only)
  • USA
  • Canada
  • Australia

On 30 June 2009, it was reported by the Irish Independent that the original owners of Setanta Sports and Denis Desmond have come to an agreement to continue to own and operate Setanta Ireland.

On 16 July 2009, it was reported that Setanta Sports Ireland had bought the Irish rights to air 33 live games from the UK's Premier League for the 2009/2010 season..

On 19 July 2009, it was reported that Setanta Sports Ireland would make 21 employees redundant though with the opportunity to be reemployed in the near future.

On 28 July 2009, it was confirmed that the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland has approved that the new ownership of Setanta Sports in Ireland and Setanta Sports in North America. A new deal between BCI and Setanta Sports will see Setanta Ireland and Setanta Sports 1 continue to air exclusively to Irish audiences

OneVision Irish DTT License application

On 1 May 2009, Fintan Drury, chairperson of the OneVision consortium made up of TV3 Group, Arqiva, Eircom and Setanta Sports, announced that OneVision is to enter negotiations with the BCI with the view to takeover operations of the the pay DTT service. If negotiations are deemed successful it may see the launch of DTT in late 2009/early 2010 at a proposed operation cost of €40 million. OneVision aspires to offer 23 channels coinciding with the free-to-air channels. For more one OneVision see article One Vision . It is Setanta Ireland that is part of the Onevision DTT Consortium and its new ownership structure could be perceived as being positive for the Onevision consortium DTT plans.


Setanta Sports USA, was launched in March 2005. Setanta Sports is a 24/7 linear channel carries competitions such as the Barclays Premier League, UEFA Champions League, FA Cup, Scottish Cup, Scottish Premier League, 2010 FIFA World Cup Qualification, Russian Premier League, Le Championnat, Coca Cola Championship, Carling Cup and exclusive MUTV and Chelsea TV. International rugby matches carried include Tri Nations, British & Irish Lions Tour, Currie Cup, Heineken Cup, Guinness Premiership, Magners League, Super 14, IRB Sevens World Series, Six Nations plus live broadcasts of the Australian NRL in league. The network also carries Irish GAA sporting Gaelic Football and Hurling. Setanta Sports is available on DirecTV, Dish Network, select areas on Comcast and Cox, RCN, Verizon FiOS TV and AT&T U-verse.

As of August 10, 2009, Setanta Sports ceased broadcasting all Australian Rules and NRL football games in the United States.


On 10 August 2007, a Canadian version of Setanta Sports was launched in partnership with Rogers Media. Setanta Sports Canada is currently available on most major television service providers in Canada including Bell TV and Shaw Direct.


On 1 November 2007, Setanta Sports Australia, the Australian version of Setanta Sports, was launched into homes across Australia. The channel was initially made available in commercial venues such as pubs and clubs in November 2005.

Currently the Setanta Sports Australia channel is available on all the major pay-TV home platforms in Australia; Foxtel, Austar, UBI World TV, TransACT and also to direct satellite customers direct satellite (Optus D2). Setanta Sports Australia is available to homes via broadband and available commercially to clubs, pubs and businesses via direct satellite (Optus D2) or Austar.

Setanta Sports Australia offers a wide range of international sport including football, rugby union, kickboxing, cagefighting, Gaelic Games and cricket. Current Setanta Sports Australia sporting right holdings include the FA Cup, England National Football Team home games, World Cup 2010 Qualifiers and playoffs, Scottish Premier League and England national rugby union team home games.

United Kingdom

Setanta's acquisition of rights to some matches of England's highest-profile domestic sporting competition, the FA Premier League, with effect from the 2007-08 season, indicated its ambition to challenge Sky Sports, which had been the dominant pay-TV sports broadcaster in the UK since pay-TV was introduced in the UK in the 1980s.

Setanta Sports was available on several platforms in the UK, including the two largest pay-TV operators, BSkyB and Virgin Media. Monthly subscriptions were available, and Virgin included most of Setanta's channels at no extra charage in its more expensive packages. Racing World and Setanta Ireland were not carried by Virgin Media and ESPN America is not available as part of the XL pack. Setanta Sports 1 were available via Digital Terrestrial Television and BT Vision. Three channels (Setanta Sports 1, Setanta Sports 2 and Setanta Golf) were available direct from Setanta via broadband internet. Those same three channels were available on Tiscali TV and Setanta Ireland is available only via Sky Digital and NTL cable in Ireland. Some programming is restricted for rights reasons.

Setanta had hoped to have a high-definition channel launched by August 2008, in time for the new Premier League season. However, no HD channel from Setanta was broadcast.

On 6 February 2009 it was announced Setanta had won only one of the 6 Premier League match packages offered for sale for 2010-2013, with Sky winning all the others. This led to commentators questioning the financial health and viability of Setanta and its football broadcast business On 19 June 2009 Setanta lost all their Premier League TV rights due to not being able to pay the £30m owed to the English Premier League.

On 22 June 2009 Setanta lost all Scottish Premier League TV rights having failed to pay £3m owed to the Scottish Premier League.

On 23 June 2009 Setanta's GB division went into administration. Other Setanta divisions such as the Irish, North American and Australian channels were not affected. Later that day, Setanta ceased broadcasting in Great Britainmarker. Setanta Sports consequently lost the UK broadcast rights for the FA Premier League, Scottish Premier League, FA Cup, and other tournaments.


Just as when Sky, in the 1990s, first obtained the exclusive rights to screen live coverage of England's away qualifiers, so Setanta have attracted similar criticism as a result of it having now obtained the same contract. However, whereas Sky often sold on a highlights package to a terrestrial broadcaster (BBC), Setanta indicated that the sums offered by terrestrial broadcasters, reported to be £100,000-£200,000, were 5-10 times lower than their perceived market value; Setanta paid £5m to screen England's away qualifier with Croatia on 10 September 2008 and believed a sensible highlights package should attract a fee of £1m. Thus, no highlights package was agreed, and Setanta themselves showed highlights of both England and Scotland qualifiers free-to-air after the live games had concluded. This was announced at 6pm on the day the matches took place, and received 220,000 viewers. Setanta then accepted "a low six-figure deal" with ITV to show delayed "extended highlights" a few days later.

Setanta's subscriber numbers were lower than those of Sky Sports, and the number of households watching the match live was estimated at around 1.5m. However, due to the availability of Setanta on both digital satellite and digital terrestrial television, the possible subscriber base actually surpasses that of Sky Sports (not presently available via DTT) but fans who were unwilling to subscribe could not see the match live. Prime Minister Gordon Brown indicated he felt it "unfortunate" more fans could not see the match live (i.e. without paying a subscription fee).

Cancellation issues

Setanta had also received significant criticism of its cancellation policy, with the issue investigated by the BBC's Watchdog programme and Radio Five Live. Whilst customers were able to subscribe either online or over the telephone, many customers found it "nigh-on impossible to cancel" the service, with the only means of a cancellation being to inform the company in writing.

Due to the amount of negative feedback received Setanta has recently changed this to allow for cancellations to be done through email. Furthermore, whilst customers were originally entered into a 30 day notice period once their cancellation letter was received this time was recently put up to 60 days without any information being sent to customers, again due to the negative feedback this was quickly reduced back down to 30 days. These customer service issues have been compounded by the fact that customers have to phone a premium rate number should they have any issues to resolve, with calls costing at least 10p per minute.

Financial difficulties and administration

According to the official Registre de Commerce et des Sociétés of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, the most recent annual accounts lodged by Setanta Sports S.a.r.l. indicated losses of 173 million (UK£149 million).

Reports on 7 June 2009 suggested Setanta could be forced into administration that week after failing to make payments due on TV rights. The Sunday Times and the Sunday Telegraph reported Deloitte is on standby to administrator if the firm does not agree a rescue with its investors. The Irish firm, which showed England's 4-0 World Cup win away to Kazakhstan the previous Saturday, is struggling to pay cash owed to football associations including the Scottish Premier League under its rights deals.

Due to late payment and renegotiation over fees by Setanta to football clubs, several UK football clubs were put into financial difficullties as money promised had been spent in annual budgets. On 4 June 2009, the Scottish Premier League announced they would be paying the sums in lieu that some of the clubs were owed to avoid causing them financial problems.

On 19 June 2009, Setanta Sports failed to pay the latest instalment of £30 million (€35 million) it owes the English Premier League. The Premier League will now sell the rights to the 46 live matches Setanta had for the 2009/10 season. A Premier League spokesman said, "It is with considerable regret that we announce that Setanta has been unable to meet their obligations. As such the existing licence agreement between us has been terminated with immediate effect."

On 20 June 2009, the Daily Mail reported that a rescue deal had failed and "administration now looks inevitable".

On 22 June 2009, it was reported on RTE News that the original Setanta Sports channel Setanta Ireland may be bought out by an existing consortium who already hold interests in Setanta Sport Holdings Ltd the Irish arm of Setanta Sports. Setanta Sports Ireland and Setanta Sports North America were the only brands which made a profit in 2008.

On 22 June 2009, Setanta lost all their Scottish Premier League TV rights due to not being able to pay the £3m (€3.5m) owed to the Scottish Premier League. Following this, it was announced that ESPN had bought the rights to show the 46 Premier League games bought by Setanta next season.

On 23 June 2009, the company went into administration following failure to make payments to a number of sporting organisations. About 200 employees will be made redundant. The administration is to be handled by Deloitte.

Further reaction

On 21 June 2009 BT Vision stopped selling Setanta Sports . Disney's ESPN won the rights to broadcasting the Premier League matches forfeited by Setanta for the 2009/10 season. 430 jobs, 200 of which are in Ireland, were expected to be lost as a result of its going into administration.


Former BBC and ITV Sport presenter Des Lynam, together with actress Thaila Zucchi starred in the advertising launch of Setanta's coverage of the Premier League from August 2007. The slogan used in this advert is "Setanta Sports - £9.99 a month, no annual contract."

Recent contracts

On 5 May 2006, Setanta broke Sky Sports' three-year monopoly on showing the Barclay's Premier League in the UK, successfully bidding £392 million for the rights to show 46 matches per season on its subscription channels.

On 7 April 2008, Setanta Sports announced they had signed an exclusive 3-year broadcast deal with Frank Warren's Sports Network to make Setanta the new home of televised boxing with fights involving Joe Calzaghe, Enzo Maccarinelli, Kevin Mitchell, Gavin Rees, Alex Arthur and Matt Skelton exclusive to Setanta Sports subscribers.

On 22 May 2008, Setanta Sports announced that they will be showing live coverage of the Vodacom Challenge Cup in South Africa, featuring Manchester United. They will be showing action from The Red Devils' games against Orlando Pirates and the Kaizer Chiefs. The tournament took place between the 19th and 26th of July.

In June 2008, it was confirmed that Setanta had gained rights to all England home friendlies and away qualifiers until 2012. ITV have picked up home qualifiers and away friendlies.

On 21 May 2008, Setanta Sports announced that they will be following up their Indian Premier League coverage with the Asia Cup featuring the international sides from the Sub-Continent going head-to-head from 26 June 2008 through to the final on 6 July 2008.

On 30 June 2008, Setanta agreed a new £125 million contract to show the Scottish Premier League until the end of the 2013-14 season.

From 16 August 2008, Setanta Sports and ITV Sport share coverage of the FA Cup, both showing equal amounts of games and even some games shown live on one channel, shown on the other at a later time in full. This is different from previous seasons of the FA Cup, when primarily BBC Sport and to a lesser extent Sky Sports, covered the competition.

On 11 December 2008, Setanta Sports announced a deal which will see it becoming the primary rights holder to rugby union's Guinness Premiership from the start of the 2010/11 season. It will broadcast 43 matches per season, including exclusive coverage of the Premiership Final. Sky Sports will show 26 matches per season.

Presenters, Pundits, Commentators & Reporters







England Nights

Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp was originally on the pundits panel for coverage of England matches, but was replaced by Sam Allardyce after one appearance.

Rugby Union



  • Connor Morris
  • Fred Cogley
  • Nigel Starmer-Smith
  • John Forrest
  • David McIntyre




  • Andy Kerr
  • Paul Dempsey
  • Phil Jones
  • Phil Makraken







  • Daire O'Brien
  • Matt Cooper (TV3)
  • Michael Lyster (RTÉ)
  • Setanta rebroadcast RTÉ and TV3 live GAA Championship coverage in Britain and beyond.


  • Mike Finnerty
  • Mal Keaveney
  • Kevin Mallon

See also

  • Special 1 TV - parody program on Setanta Sports that featuring puppet caricatures of football personalities.


External links

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