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Founders of Setanta plan last ditch bid

SETANTA founders Leonard Ryan and Michael O&rsquo;Rourke are understood to be locked in talks to table a last-ditch bid that could see them buy out the ailing firm&rsquo;s other investors, which include Doughty Hanson, Balderton Capital and Goldman Sachs.<br /><br />It is also thought that Setanta has&nbsp; recently offered stakes of up to 30 per cent to BT and ESPN, Disney&rsquo;s sports business, in a desperate attempt to stay afloat. None of the parties was interested.<br /><br />Last night, rival bidders for the rights to Premier League football were waiting with bated breath as the troubled sports broadcaster looked ever closer to going into administration.<br /><br />New subscribers to Setanta&rsquo;s channels were being turned away yesterday afternoon, with &ldquo;routine site maintenance&rdquo; and &ldquo;technical issues&rdquo; blamed for the service being disabled.<br /><br />A spokesperson for Setanta was unable to comment but, with the Irish broadcaster closed to new business last night, many in the City speculated that the end could not be far away.<br /><br />Accountancy firm Deloitte has been on standby to flip the switch on Setanta, which has been struggling for months to raise new capital and renegotiate rights payments for football matches and the US PGA golf tour.<br /><br />The company confirmed last week that it had failed to meet a &pound;3m payment to the Scottish Premier League, and has been locked in meetings with week to address the issue of the payment of &pound;35m due to the Premier League next Monday.<br /><br />Setanta&rsquo;s subscriber appeal, and therefore its business model, suffered a lethal blow in February when it failed to hold on to the rights to show its desired number of Premier League football matches.<br /><br />Setanta currently holds the rights to show two Premier League packages, or 46 live matches a season.<br />