Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Secret Talks on ITV Row

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Secret Talks on ITV Row

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID BOND

EXCLUSIVE By David Bond

HOPES of a breakthrough in the dispute between ITV Digital's owners Carlton and Granada and the Football League were raised today after secret talks were held during Arsenal's match against Tottenham.

Standard Sport can reveal that Arsenal's vice-chairman David Dein arranged Saturday's meeting between Spurs vice-chairman David Buchler, who has been hired by the League as an adviser, and Granada chief executive Steve Morrison.

While no final agreement was reached it is understood encouraging progress was made.

The League is threatening to take legal action against Carlton and Granada to force them to pay the [pound]178 million they owe as part of a [pound]315m, three-year television rights deal with struggling offshoot ITV Digital.

Publicly neither Granada nor Carlton can be seen to be talking to the League about a settlement as lawyers have warned them that would weaken their legal position if the case goes to court.

That's why talks are being held in private-and were conducted through Dein, who is perfectly positioned to act as the go-between. He knows Buchler, chairman of Kroll Buchler Phillips, one of the UK's leading insolvency specialists, and his son Darren is engaged to Buchler's daughter Sarah.

Morrison, meanwhile, helped set up the deal with Arsenal which saw Granada take a [pound]47m, five per cent stake in the club in September 2000.

Dein is also aware of the damaging consequences the collapse of ITV Digital could have on the Premiership.

The company was placed in administration 10 days ago after Carlton and Granada decided they could no longer withstand losses estimated at [pound]1m a day.

Officially, Carlton and Granada say they are not liable for the money ITV Digital owes the League's 72 clubs.

The League disputes those claims and is threatening to sue for [pound]500m if the administrators, Deloitte and Touche,

close the channel. …

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