Setanta kicks off Premier League coverage

By Kevin Hilton

The English Premier League football season starts tomorrow, with great expectations for not only what happens on the pitch but also on televisions around the country. Setanta Sports begins its contract to broadcast 46 live Premiership matches with the game between Aston Villa and Liverpool, breaking the monopoly Sky Sports has held for so long.

The Irish broadcaster also begins its Setanta by Broadband service, which allows English and Scottish Premier League games, the US PGA Tour and Magners League rugby union to be watched online and archive material to be downloaded for 7.99 a month.

Sky still has 92 live games but Setanta is taking the fight to its bigger, more established rival by offering a no annual contract deal at 9.99 a month for its live matches and forming alliances with the BT Vision broadband and Virgin Media cable services.

Setanta has also assembled a heavyweight presenting, commentary and analysis team, the biggest coup being to bring in Desmond Lynam, a respected figure in British sports broadcasting who has worked for both the BBC and ITV. Lynam will interview leading figures from the Premiership, starting tomorrow with Martin O’Neil, manager of Aston Villa.

The presenter of the live match programmes is Angus Scott, with a line-up of pundits including Neil Warnock, former manager of Sheffield United, controversially relegated from the Premiership last season, Steve McManaman, Emmanuel Petit and Les Ferdinand. The commentators are Jon Champion and Ian Crocker, with analysis from former player Craig Burley. James Richardson will present a Friday night preview programme and front BT Vision’s coverage.

Setanta’s coverage will be SD and stereo but the broadcaster is promising to bring in HD and 5.1 in the near future. Outside broadcast facilities are being provided by leading UK independent contractor Arena TV.