Sports broadcaster Setanta Sports is holding crisis talks with the English Premier League, the outcome of which could decide the future of the company.
News of the move came as it emerged the firm, founded by Leonard Ryan and Michael O'Rourke in 1990 to broadcast Irish sporting events abroad, appointed a new management team which has been charged with the job of raising funds.
The two ex-pats, who were based in London, reportedly set up the company having been frustrated at their inability to watch the Republic of Ireland take on Holland in the 1990 football World Cup on TV.
Setanta, which is struggling to survive after the loss of some of its Premier League rights, has entered into emergency funding talks to raise up to £100m (€112m) from shareholders this month, including private equity firm Doughty Hanson, which also owns TV3, and Barry Maloney's Balderton Capital.
The talks come six weeks after Setanta was late with a payment of £10m (€11.2m) to the FA -- a development that prompted concerns over the company's future.
In order to buy time and ease its immediate cash flow, the company has also opened negotiations with the Premier League over deferring or reducing a £60m (€67m) instalment due on its current £392m (€440m) deal this month.
A new management team has also been appointed at Setanta, with Robin Millar, formerly of publishing house Emap, leading the search for investment.
Gary McIlraith, a former Sky executive, has been appointed chief executive of Setanta UK, which is a division of the Irish company.
As well as the Premier League and FA, it has been in talks with the Scottish Premier League, Premier Rugby, the US PGA Tour and the Indian Premier League.
The company, which has 1.5 million subscribers in the UK and Ireland, is also attempting to renegotiate contracts yet to start and a meeting with the Scottish Premier League to due to take place later this week.
The broadcaster has stressed the positive impact of its emergence as a rival to Sky, driving up the value of sports rights to the benefit of individual sports.
Sources close to the company believe that the attitude of the Premier League to Setanta's request will be crucial to the survival of the company which raised close to £300m back in 2006 to expand its UK services led by the launch of its live Premier League soccer coverage.
As the broadcaster's largest creditor and most important partner, any resistance from the Premier would jeopardise its future.
It is understood that the league chief executive Richard Scudamore is considering a request to defer the payment but he is likely to resist any plea for a reduction. Other rights holders who are effectively behind the Premier League in the queue for Setanta's fees will be watching on. The broadcaster's failure to retain both packages of Premier League games in the 2010-13 rights auction has prompted a wholesale review of the business.
Setanta insiders insist that talks have been positive and reject suggestions that the FA had been resistant. "We have had constructive and helpful discussions with all our rights holders," said Setanta UK director of sport Trevor East.
"We have met all our obligations to date, and they appreciate that we have done a great deal to stimulate the market for their rights, and understand how important it is that we are in a position to do so in future."