Staff at Setanta Sports to score share options

Options to be made available to staff with at least one year of service at broadcaster

Staff at Irish TV broadcaster Setanta Sports are set to be given up to 10 per cent of the business in share options, as part of a scheme devised by its owner Michael O'Rourke.

Setanta Sports Broadcasting Ltd, which is based in Dublin, confirmed to The Irish Times yesterday that up to 90 of the company's 130 staff could benefit from the scheme.

Options will be made available to staff with at least one year of service and there will be a vesting period of two years before the options becomes exercisable.

The documentation on the scheme is expected to be distributed to staff today.


While Setanta does not reveal its subscriber numbers, it is believed to have had a successful year following its association with BT Sport and other content acquisition deals in 2013.

The Setanta Sports Pack now carries the BT Sport 1, BT Sport 2 and ESPN channels in the Republic.

These bring an additional 38 English Premier League games to the Setanta line up, in addition to the 33 games that the broadcaster shows here on Saturday afternoons as part of an Irish rights package that it won.

Setanta’s association with BT means that it will carry European Rugby Champions Cup (formerly the Heineken Cup) action this season, with 35 live games including Irish provinces and the final.

Commenting on the staff share scheme, Mr O’Rourke said: “We are delighted to be in a position to do this for our staff. The reaction internally has been very enthusiastic to what we believe is a unique arrangement in Irish broadcasting.

“The past 12 months have been very positive for Setanta Sports and we want to ensure we have the best people working for us as we enter into an exciting stage of development over the coming years. We believe in our colleagues having a sense of ownership and this move ensures that.”

This scheme marks a major turnaround for Setanta, which almost went out of business in Ireland in 2009. Its UK business collapsed that year after an unsuccessful attempt to take on Sky Sports dominance of live rights in the UK.

The Irish business was rescued at the time by Mr O'Rourke, his long-time business associates Leonard Ryan and Mark O'Meara, and concert promoter Denis Desmond.

Mr O’Rourke bought out his partners in 2011.

Ciarán Hancock

Ciarán Hancock

Ciarán Hancock is Business Editor of The Irish Times