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Mickey O’Rourke’s Premier Sports network ‘in sale talks’ with Swedes

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Rob Kearney at the Premier Sports announcement that he was joining its United Rugby Championship media team in 2021. Picture by Dan Sheridan

Rob Kearney at the Premier Sports announcement that he was joining its United Rugby Championship media team in 2021. Picture by Dan Sheridan

Rob Kearney at the Premier Sports announcement that he was joining its United Rugby Championship media team in 2021. Picture by Dan Sheridan

Mickey O’Rourke’s Premier Sports may have caught the eye of a Nordic streaming company.

According to reports on Bloomberg, Viaplay Group AB is in talks to buy Premier Sports. The Stockholm-listed streaming company is looking to gain UK broadcasting rights ahead of its launch there, sources told the news website.

A source was cited, saying that Viaplay aims to reach an agreement as soon as this month.

Bloomberg reported that other suitors had expressed interest in Premier Sports. Deliberations are said to be ongoing with no certainty the discussions with Viaplay will lead to an agreement.

Premier Sports has significant operations in the UK, broadcasting live Scottish football, Spain’s La Liga, Rugby League, and several other sports.

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Mickey O'Rourke, founder of Premier Sports

Mickey O'Rourke, founder of Premier Sports

Mickey O'Rourke, founder of Premier Sports

In April, Viaplay scored goals in the UK market by securing rights to show Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish men’s national football team matches in the run up to the Fifa World Cup.

Tom Ward, a media and telecoms analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence, wrote in a research note that the potential acquisition “could jumpstart Viaplay’s sports credentials” in the UK.

If the sale goes through, it would not be the first time O'Rourke sold one of the TV companies he founded.

The entrepreneur famously sold Setanta TV to Ireland’s biggest telecom group, which some industry sources suggested could have been worth €20m.

Viaplay said its policy is that it never comments on rumours or speculation.

Ladbrokes-linked firm books a €4.5m loss

It’s not very often that the bookies book a loss – but the Covid pandemic had other ideas, especially on the retail side of the sector.

According to recently published accounts, Ladbroke (Ireland), a company which owns Ladbrokes betting shops for its ultimate parent Entain plc, recorded a loss before tax of nearly €4.5m in its 2020 financial year.

The loss was down from a pre-tax profit of almost €2.7m the previous year.

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The results show the average betting slip stake was €12.86.

Just before the pandemic hit, Ladbroke Ireland paid parent company Ladbrokes Betting & Gaming a €12m dividend. No further dividends were declared.

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Andrew Lynch of Mason Alexander. Photo: David Conachy.

Andrew Lynch of Mason Alexander. Photo: David Conachy.

Andrew Lynch of Mason Alexander. Photo: David Conachy.

Kearney-backed recruiter opens San Francisco office

Mason Alexander, the Dublin-based recruitment and technology solutions firm part-owned by former Irish rugby player Rob Kearney, has opened its second US office in San Francisco.

Headquartered in Dublin and founded in 2013 by CEO Andrew Lynch, Mason Alexander new office received support from Enterprise Ireland.

The company’s footprint now also includes locations in New York, Dublin, Cork, Portugal and Romania.


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