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Setanta out as rival soccer bids in

July 9, 2009

The English Premier League will take until the end of the week to decide between the bids it has received for Setanta's relinquished 46 EPL games. The smart money is on half going to Sky (it can't take all of them because of competition regulation) and half to ESPN.

Pay-to-watch service Top Up TV has been mentioned as another potential bidder. It is backed by Russian-American industrialist Len Blavatnik, whose Access Industries walked away from rescue talks with Setanta on Friday.

Restructuring partners from Deloitte are understood to have been lined up to act as administrators should the forfeiture of Premier League rights prove to be a fatal blow for Setanta. The broadcaster also controls rights to FA Cup matches, England games and Scottish Premier League fixtures, and some top golf and boxing.

The company has signed up about 1.2 million subscribers – and it needs 1.9 million to break even. It is believed to be operating at an annual loss of almost £100m (E118m). New subscriptions were suspended this month and the business has also missed a £3m payment to the Scottish Premier League. Setanta shareholders include Doughty Hanson, Balderton Capital and ¬Goldman Sachs.

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