Extra time for ITV Digital

ITV Digital to keep the service open for another week to allow further talks with the Football League.

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By  Marcus Webb Published  April 16, 2002

The troubled UK TV company ITV Digital has been given an extra week by the High Court to reach agreement with the Football League.

Administrators for the company told the hearing on Monday the survival of the company "hangs on a knife edge", but they remained "hopeful" of successfully restructuring the business.

They said there were sufficient funds to continue running the business for a further week and that discussions with the Football League over a £178.5m debt were now at a crucial stage.

Following the hearing accountants Deloitte & Touche, joint administrators of ITV Digital, issued a statement in which they claimed “the restructuring has been hampered by the unauthorised disclosure of private and confidential discussions and the campaign of negative publicity.”

“We remain hopeful that our on-going discussions could result in a successful restructuring,” they continue. “However, should the Football League reject the proposals or we conclude that the on-going recriminations have undermined our ability to achieve the business plan, we will be left with no alternative than to implement a sale of the business and assets.”

The decision means Granada and Carlton have agreed to stump up at least £5m extra cash to keep the digital TV operation alive. They have invested more than £800m in the venture, which is losing £1m a day.

ITV Digital called in administrators on March 27 after failing to renegotiate a £315m rights deal with the Football League, comprising the 72 professional clubs below the Premier League.

Carlton and Granada have said they cannot afford to pay the remaining £179m they owe the league, while the league has threatened to sue ITV Digital and its owners for more than £500m if a deal cannot be reached.

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