The Union of the Two Towers, Oirish style
While perhaps questioning our sanity, our longtime readers will surely be aware of one of our oldest themes on the blog -- the nexus of Oirishness that ties together developments in politics, culture, sport, and business, and not just in Ireland either, but anywhere that the Oirish set up shop. But, as Han Solo might say, sometimes we amaze even ourselves.
We'd had some fruitful correspondence with reader Andrew, an exiled Glasgow Celtic fan in the southern hemisphere, specifically concerning the plans of current and potential future owners of the club. We speculated that one outfit that would have to be watched is Setanta, the Irish sports broadcast company about whom we have ranted in the past (sadly, it seems that the US Federal Trade Commission was not reading us).
Anyway, Friday's Irish Times (subs. req'd) has word that Setanta is trying to hire a top executive from Rupert Murdoch's Sky TV; Sky currently owns the live rights to nearly all English Premiership matches, and there's speculation that Setanta getting this executive could be a prelude to them launching their own bid for the rights. Based on our experiences trying to watch Setanta broadcasts, we think this would be a bad move for the Prem and for the viewers.
But in explaining how a relatively small Irish company could amass the cash for a bid, the IT story drops this little nugget:
However, the giant US insurance company AIG is now an investor in Setanta.
Yes, that would be the same AIG company that sourced a very dodgy balance sheet manoeuvre in Dublin, one that has seen an Irish resident executive of the counterpart company cop a plea. And in the digging around that deal, it emerged that ousted AIG supremo Maurice Greenberg had structured his very own nuclear option so that a big chunk of AIG ends up being owned by an Irish charity if the wrong tripwires are activated.
So there you have it: the Oirish company that already owns Scottish league broadcast rights, and might add the English ones, is being backed the high-profile subject of the USA's financial scandal du jour. The prevailing culture in the Irish meeja though remains that we're supposed to view all these things as signs of success.