Nicky Byrne's Eurovision campaign gets a boost as Romania is expelled from competition for €14m debt
Romania has been expelled from the Eurovision Song Contest due to an outstanding debt of nearly €14m.
Romanian broadcaster Televiziunea Romana (TVR) was ordered to pay the sum in 2007 to the European Broadcasting Union and the organisation have described the decision to ban the country from performing this year as "regrettable."
Director General of the EBU Ingrid Deltenre explained: "It is regrettable that we are forced to take this action. We are disappointed that all our attempts to resolve this matter have received no response from the Romanian government.
"In recent weeks the EBU has taken note of the Ministry of Finance's suggestion that TVR may be placed into insolvency proceedings which may in turn lead to a profound restructuring of the broadcaster.
"The EBU is a not-for-profit association which represents 73 public service broadcasters in 56 countries. The continued indebtedness of TVR jeopardises the financial stability of the EBU itself."
In addition to the Eurovision ban, TVR will also be penalised by revoking the right to broadcast certain sporting events, Eurovision News and Sports News.
Romania's representative Ovidiu Anton confirmed the news in a statement on his website, saying the decision is "unfair".
"I am still the same, same honest artist, same fighter that won fare [sic] and square both from the jury and from the public's vote, but yet, I have to declare I have been "defeated" By whom? Why? Fair? I don't know how to put it nicely, so I abstain," he wrote.
Jon Ola Sand, executive supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest, said they need to "stay firm" on the "difficult" decision.
"It is, of course, disappointing - it's disappointing for the artist, for the fans, and for the viewers in Romania and all over Europe," he said.
"But we have to stay firm on this decision, and I believe it was the right decision. And then we will have to see for 2017, and onwards, how this situation develops."
Irish representative Nicky Byrne will now be competing against 41 countries in total when he takes to the stage in Stockholm, Sweden on May 12.