Sky Television has confirmed it has lost the rights to broadcast the English Premier League in New Zealand next season.
English football, for so long a staple of Sky TV's diet, is just under two months away from kicking off its new season and as it stands, New Zealand's pay network will not be showing it.
"Firstly I would like to say we absolutely want to renew that contract," Sky Television's Corporate Communications spokeswoman Kirsty Way said.
"A more correct version of events is that we put in our highest bid we have ever put in but we have been told we did not win and the rights have gone to a private equity firm."
This represents a massive blow to Sky's 900,000 subscriber base in New Zealand, and whether the unnamed private equity firm will be able to offer New Zealanders coverage, be it online or otherwise, remains unclear.
"We are also led to believe that they will be offering the games as an online package but until the winning bidder announces their plans for the rights we have no greater knowledge than you as to what those plans may be," Sky said in a statement they posted on their website tonight.
Sommet Sports, a new Kiwi online channel, said on social media it had also been outbid.
"Sommet doesn't have EPL, we came second in the bidding, MP & Silva sold the rights to an internet start up called colesseum," Sommet Sports tweeted.
"Not sure if the FA has approved internet only delivery."
MP & Silva was awarded the live audio visual broadcast rights for all 380 Barclays Premier League matches per season for seasons 2013/14 - 2015/16 in three separate broadcast territories in the Asia and Australasia region last November.
The three regions are Indonesia, New Zealand, and 15 Pacific Islands.
"We know MP & Silva well as they have acquired Premier League rights in the past and we are pleased to be working with them again," Premier League Chief Executive, Richard Scudamore said in a statement last year.
"We are confident that they will distribute all the best Barclays Premier League action in a comprehensive and innovative manner to fans in Indonesia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands."
Sky tried to assure its subscriber base that it would strive to broadcast top-level football in the future.
"We are extremely disappointed to have missed out and seek to assure our football loving subscribers that this does not signal a change in our wishes to secure the best football matches that we can for you," the statement said.
"Last week we concluded our biggest ever deal with Football New
Zealand to cover All Whites and Football Ferns matches, we will
continue to show Wellington Phoenix and other A-League matches and
through ESPN we will continue to have coverage of the Champions
League. Over the coming weeks we expect to announce more new