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Is a title challenge possible for Man Utd?

Manchester United
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By ESPN Staff

Ministers welcome new Premiership TV deal

Sports Minister Tessa Jowell has welcomed the extraordinary £1.7billion deal struck by BSkyB and Setanta for Premier League audio-visual rights.

BSkyB paid £1.314billion for four of the six available packages but their monopoly on broadcasting live Premier League football was broken after Setanta pulled off a shock by winning the other two at a price of £392million.

The combined total represents an increase of 65% on the exclusive broadcasting deal struck between BSkyB and the Premier League three years ago.

And once the Premier League has concluded its deals for international rights, mobile rights and highlights packages the figure is set to break the £2billion mark.

The new deal will provide a windfall to the 20 Premier League clubs, with even the team finishing bottom now set to pocket over £30million.

But it will also filter down to grass roots level of the game and Jowell, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, believes it will boost Britain's 2012 Olympic hopes.

'Young people in communities up and down the country will benefit from the sale of TV football rights,' said Jowell.

'This is particularly important over the next six years as we seek to ensure that every community in the country has the opportunity to benefit from London hosting the Olympic Games by boosting participation and increasing opportunities to compete.

'For young people who have never played sport, football can be both the principle sport of choice but also for many the gateway to fun and enjoyment in other sports like rugby, golf, tennis and cricket.'

For the three seasons between 2007 and 2010, Sky Sports will show 92 live games and Setanta Sports 46 games. Under the new deal no Premier League games will be shown on a pay-per-view basis.

Sky have paid £4.7million per game for the prime packages, which gives them first choice on fixtures.

European law prevented Sky from winning all six packages, but after they were awarded the first three last week it came as a surprise that Setanta landed two.

Setanta's games, to be shown live on Saturday tea-time and Monday evenings, will effectively replace those that are broadcast under the current deal as pay-per-view games on PremPlus.

'It is not a question of taking on Sky Sports. There is enough room in the market for both of us,' said East.

'Sky will have first picks, but it is not just about that. Matches have to be played at certain times to fit in with Champions League and police requirements so every package will have some gems in it.

'All the best matches will not be in packages A and F (which Sky won). We are delighted to have Monday night and Saturday tea-time on Setanta.'

Sky Sports have rights to broadcast games live on a Saturday lunch-time, two slots on a Sunday plus midweek evenings and bank holidays.

Vic Wakeling, the managing director of Sky Sports, said: 'This is good news for fans, football and Sky.

'We will offer first picks, the best matches and biggest head-to-heads. There will be more live Premiership matches on Sky Sports than ever: 92 games per season, up from 88 games today.'