Football

FA bid to contain Setanta fallout

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The Football Association are hopeful they will be able to minimise the impact of Setanta's collapse on the grass-roots game.

The FA need to cover a £100million gap in their finances after Setanta went into administration and will now sell off the rights to England and FA Cup matches previously held by the Irish broadcaster.

FA chief executive Ian Watmore is confident any shortfall will be a cut in profits rather than a loss - though that will mean less money for grass-roots football. He said: "Unfortunately, while the FA were able to agree on a way forward with Setanta, this has not been possible, due to the problems they encountered."

Setanta were 12 months into a four-year deal with the FA worth £150million, and it is understood £100million was still to be paid.

Watmore added: "The FA will now consider options to find the best platform to broadcast those fixtures contracted to Setanta. These include England home friendly matches, FA Cup ties, England Under-21s games and the FA Community Shield.

"We remain confident in the strength of these fixtures and expect significant interest from broadcasters wanting to pay for the rights to partner the FA and the England teams."

There is also bitterness within the FA that the Premier League did not give Setanta more time to secure a rescue package and so hastened the broadcaster's demise.

The Premier League pulled the plug on Setanta on Friday after the broadcaster failed to meet a final payment deadline, and on Tuesday announced ESPN as the replacement for their live games for next season and 2010-13. It is understood ITV will gain the rights for up to eight England away friendlies at a previously-agreed price, but all of Setanta's other rights will be up for grabs.

Setanta went off air just before 6pm on Tuesday evening, and shortly afterwards the Football Conference said the impact would be "enormous".

The Conference said in a statement read: "We are deeply saddened by the news. Although the financial implications of this action will have an enormous impact on the competition, our clubs, partners and supporters must not forget their contribution to us over the last two years."

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