PA Sport

ESPN renew SPL contract

ESPN renew SPL contract
By Eurosport

03/08/2012 at 22:00Updated 03/08/2012 at 22:05

ESPN has confirmed their continued coverage of Scottish football, following Sky Sports in agreeing a five-year contract.

ESPN will screen 30 SPL games and 10 Rangers games from the Third Division, including three from Ibrox.

The SPL's television deal had been in doubt following the financial collapse of Rangers and the decision to vote the Ibrox newco into the Third Division, but chief executive Neil Doncaster and a steering group have safeguarded most of the revenue. ESPN's coverage begins on Sunday with Dundee United's season opener against Hibernian.

They will then show the Edinburgh derby on August 12 and Celtic's first league visit to Ross County on August 18. Details of their Rangers coverage will be announced later.

Sky announced on Tuesday they will show 30 live league matches this season, including five Rangers fixtures.

The announcement comes as SPL clubs meet to approve the television contracts, following weeks of negotiations aimed at protecting their deals, which were dependent on both Rangers and Celtic being present.

Sky and ESPN had been due to sign a five-year deal worth £80 million this summer to replace their existing £13m annual contract, before the downfall of Rangers.

Kilmarnock chairman Michael Johnston said on Wednesday that he understood there would not be any "significant reduction" in broadcasting contract revenues.

The meeting also saw Dundee officially inducted into the SPL to replace Rangers, allowing Saturday's clash at Kilmarnock to proceed. The Dark Blues finished second in the First Division last season, albeit 24 points adrift of champions Ross County, and were selected to replace Rangers ahead of Dunfermline, who finished bottom of the SPL.

An SPL statement read: "At eight minutes past ten this morning, the member clubs unanimously approved the transfer of Rangers' SPL share to Dundee Football Club. Dundee FC is now a member of the SPL."