Yesterday, amidst all the good news for Arsenal supporters, there was an announcement by the English Premier League that they are cancelling Setanta’s contract for the 2009/10 season owing to the fact that Setanta could not make a £10m scheduled payment. The rights to some 46 matches are now going to be repackaged and sold to the highest bidder with Sky sports and ESPN the two most likely contenders.
Ok, but here’s where this gets complicated.
From what I’ve gleaned, there are multiple types of rights for these matches. There are rights to broadcast in England and Ireland (from here on out “The Isles”) and there are rights to broadcast in Asia, and rights to broadcast in America. Evidently, and I may well be wrong about this as I cannot confirm it due to the fact that setanta.com/us is all kinds of broken (it’s stuck in an infinite questionnaire loop), the games that were terminated were only EPL games broadcast on The Isles. I poked around on the dot US site but could see nothing approaching the type of press release they have done on the English site, so the speculation that this change might not effect American viewers could be spot on.
Of course, if Setanta collapses completely, which at this point is pretty likely given the huge financial hit they will take from not being able to broadcast EPL matches plus the fact that they can’t secure funding because they owe £50m in taxes, then all bets are off and the American content will probably be sold off to the highest bidder as well.
Personally, I don’t think we’ll see much drop in coverage. The EPL is a cash cow in the U.S. and any broadcaster would be foolish not to bid on the games, especially if they are being offered at a discount. If Sky wins the contracts then we will most likely be relegated to watching re-runs of the matches as Sky currently only has one channel in the U.S. — Fox Soccer Channel. And Fox Soccer Channel is the worst kind of low rent broadcaster. If they win, we’ll probably never see football in HD.
Given the horrible programming, plus the reluctance of Fox to spend on upgrades, I would say that as long as Tommy Smyth is kept away from the microphone, most American football fans would rather have ESPN win the contract than Sky. If ESPN wins, we might not get all the matches, but they do have several channels, two of which are HD, and if they could parley the built in audience that Setanta has generated, with a brand new HD season I think they could have a real winner.
ESPN is a stable, huge corporation and they could really do the EPL up right. No more “Upgrade” commercials run 60 times in 15 minutes! So, I think it’s in all American Arsenal supporter’s best interest to push ESPN to buy the American rights to the EPL and broadcast them. If you have a few seconds, click this link and contact ESPN and let them know how you feel.
The Poop Scoop
There’s precious little transfer news this morning. I guess Ryan Babel is tired of warming the bench at Anfield and has let it be known that he wants to play for Arsenal. Frankly, I think he’s shown that he is not Premier League material and I’m happy Arsene didn’t splash the cash on him when we were linked two years ago. Of course, if anyone could rescue his career Arsene could do it, but we’d need a really good price.
Africa Cup of Nations
I was thinking about the Vermaelen purchase last night and how Arsenal will be losing 3-4 players to the ACN next year and I’ve come to the conclusion that Vermaelen isn’t coming in to displace Toure and Gallas but rather to provide much needed cover for them. Think about it, Wenger can bring Vermaelen along slowly while playing the shiat out of Toure and then when the ACN takes Toure, Song, Eboue, and possibly Adebayor (he’s on the outs again with Togo) Vermaelen can step in and fill the roles of either Song or Toure. If he’s as good as Wenger says and Wenger makes sure to get him a bunch of games before January (but not burn him out) he will be a great player to have at a crucial time in the season, when we are losing all the rest of our defense to the ACN.
Frankly, it’s the perfect way to bring the guy along in his first year.
Meanwhile, that means that Arsene is unlikely to let Gallas and Toure go anywhere, unless a sizable bid is made. He doesn’t need to replace them. They know the system and signing Vermaelen gives Arsenal cover against their departure at the crucial part of the season.
What this might herald is the retirement of Silvestre. OH PLEASE GOD!
Still, the ACN does mean that Arsenal have an even greater need for a Midfield partner for Cesc, if Song is supposedly one of the options there, then he will need cover when he leaves in January as well.
Who will it be Arsene?
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