Success of Sky was never a model for Setanta
I do not wish to be too hard on Setanta or sound like General Hindsight who always wins every battle, but the simple truth is that the Irish satellite channel mistakenly thought that Sky's uniquely successful sports formula could easily be replicated.
The fact is Sky's model was not laid out in blueprint at its Isleworth headquarters in west London but evolved over time, often more by accident than design and helped by a very special set of circumstances that are unlikely to recur.
Setanta was clearly riveted by the oft-repeated story that Premier League football rescued Sky. It did, but also recall that when Sky first started it never charged a fee for its sports channels. It only began demanding money once it had acquired the rights for the Premier League - and even then its initial charge was just £2 a month.
Sky's acquisition of Premier League rights was, like Wellington's description of the Battle of Waterloo, a "damn close-run thing". Had Tottenham, then one of the 'big five' clubs, still been run by Irving Scholar and not Sir Alan Sugar, ITV would have come out on top. That's because Scholar would almost certainly have sided with the four other major clubs - Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool and Everton - and voted for Greg Dyke's ITV. Instead, Sugar stood with Sky and decisively tipped the balance the other way.
Sky deserves great credit for the progress it has made, its growth at times surpassing that of the Premier League itself. But not all of its initial projections have worked. At that crucial rights meeting back in 1992, there was talk of making matches available through pay-per-view. But while we in Britain are happy to pay a monthly fee to a satellite broadcaster, we do not like taking our credit cards out for individual sports events. This is in stark contrast to America. Now nobody talks about armchair pay-per-view tickets for football in the UK.
Setanta must have felt the intervention of the European Commission, which forced the Premier League to have more than one holder of live rights, was divine. But the 46 live matches the broadcaster secured for the 2007/08 to 2009/10 seasons were never likely to dent Sky's portfolio. What's more, in bidding £392m, Setanta overpaid for its particular package. Sure, Sky was forced to pay a lot more to secure its own rights because of the threat posed by Setanta - and I know certain Setanta executives who dined out on that story - but it has proved a very pyrrhic victory.
By the time bidding for the next lot of Premier League rights packages (2010-2013) took place earlier this year, the market conditions had changed. Setanta ended up underbidding by 20% and lost half its rights. It has struggled ever since.
The change in market conditions has also meant that while the Premier League or Indian Premier League can still justify good money, other sports cannot. Setanta's mix of sporting fayre is wrong and, having chased a Sky formula which it thought could easily be copied, it is paying a heavy price, so much so that it may not survive another 48 hours.
Sky, I suspect, would quite like to keep Setanta on as a wholesaler for sports rights, a rival fatally weakened but useful to stop interventions from the likes of the European Commission.