Canadian fans of the beautiful game were left in the lurch this week when they learned of broadcasting problems on foreign and domestic sides of the ball.
Late last week it was revealed that Setanta, the European broadcaster that provides Canucks with a full slate of English Premiership games, was in serious financial trouble.
The Premiership rejected a request from the broadcaster to defer a payment worth the equivalent of $105 million due at the end of this month — a scheduled instalment on its roughly $685-million deal.
Setanta Canada couldn't offer comment on the future of the foreign channel.
"I am only in a position to comment on the programming and operation of Setanta Sports Canada. The programming on Setanta Sports Canada going forward is better than it has ever been. We have partnered with Rogers Sportsnet on a three-year deal which will see even more live UEFA Champions League coverage on Setanta," marketing manager of Setanta Sports Canada, Andy Shapeira said.
It remains unclear if Setanta were to fail to meet its financial obligations, how that would affect the broadcast of games here.
Meanwhile, last weekend, Rogers Sportsnet announced it would not be covering two of the Nutrilite Voyageurs Cup games.
Sportsnet is passing on the most-anticipated domestic game of the year, as Montreal takes on Toronto at BMO Wednesday, to throw the full weight of its channel behind the team it owns, the Toronto Blue Jays.
Toronto FC director of business operations Paul Beirne confirmed the match will only be broadcast on the TFC website, “with no audio. Bare bones feed from the video board in stadium.”
It speaks to how far the club is willing to go to give its fans what they want — coverage — but also to the need for a dedicated channel to exist.
MLSE, which owns Toronto FC, purchased a controlling stake in the soccer channel GOLTV last year. And this season it has broadcast a couple of the TFC games there.
Canadian fans, who shell out $15 a month for Setanta, have shown they are willing to pay more for a dedicated broadcaster that will provide reliable, accurate and, moreover, consistent coverage.
If other stations aren’t willing to provide that, the same can be assumed for the domestic side of the ball.
– Watch Ben Rycroft on the It’s Called Football show every Tuesday at www.metronews.ca/blogs; firstname.lastname@example.org.