The news that Setanta has gone into administration might be of little surprise after the SPL yesterday terminated its contract with the company - but it throws into sharper focus the loss in extensive coverage that Scottish football will have to endure, even when a new deal with a rival broadcaster is struck.
The English Premier League could afford to be more blasé about its decision to pull of the plug on its Setanta TV deal on Friday, as the bulk of their rights are still tied up by Sky - plus broadcasters are bound to fight it out to secure any coverage of arguably the highest-quality football league in the world.
It seems likely that it’ll be Sky or Disney’s ESPN - who have now snapped up those lapsed rights to show 46 English Premier League games next season - who will step in to take over the SPL rights.
However, it’s unlikely either will match the generous Setanta deal, one which teams in the Scottish top-flight had taken for granted would be enriching their coffers this summer.
In agreeing the new contract SPL clubs had managed to more than double the amount that Setanta would have paid for the rights to broadcast games, rising to £125m over the four-year period kicking off in 2010 compared to the current level of £55m. Can the Scottish game possibly hope to find a similar deal?
Given that this money would have been used to keep some of the smaller sides afloat, it remains to be seen how they’ll survive in the immediate future, especially with no prospect of a quick tie-up to compensate for the payments they would be receiving from Setanta.
The financial aspect aside, there’s another depressing side to the whole debacle, concerning the coverage fans of the SPL can now expect next season. The Irish broadcaster had the space in its schedules to lavish a large amount of TV time on life in the Scottish top flight, much more so than any rival stepping into its shoes will have.
Though their standards of professionalism seemed a bit ropey at the start compared to the SPL’s former home on Sky, over the course of their time in Scotland they grew into the role well, utilising fine presenters and analysts such as Rob Maclean and Craig Burley.
There was also extensive build-up to the big games, highlights shows, chances to catch up on full games with your favourite teams from the weekend, plus 60 live games a season, more than had ever been shown before. Will the SPL sides be able to find themselves a similar spotlight to ensure their fortunes don’t start to mirror those of their former broadcasting partner?