Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd. (MLSE) announced Friday that it has entered an agreement to purchase Insight Sports Ltd's ownership in GolTV Canada. The purchase, made by one of MLSE's affiliate companies, will see Canada's premier sports and entertainment organization acquire an 80.1 per cent stake in the 24-hour soccer network. The transaction will require CRTC approval.
"In just over three years with Insight Sports, GolTV has quickly become the number one source for 24/7 soccer coverage in Canada. Given Maple Leaf Sport & Entertainment's operation of Toronto FC, its on-going investment in soccer in Canada and its existing broadcast business we believe soccer fans will continue to be extremely well-served," said Mark Rubinstein, president of Insight Sports.
Rubinstein added "Insight Sports remains committed to our other strong broadcast properties, WFN: World Fishing Network and GameTV and are excited about a number of upcoming initiatives that will be announced shortly regarding both networks."
"GolTV is a great acquisition for our organization," said Tom Anselmi, executive vice-president and chief operating officer of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment. "We're looking to take GolTV programming to the next level, which will benefit soccer, and support the development of the game at both the professional and grassroots levels. GolTV is 100% dedicated to soccer and will continue to feed the insatiable appetite of soccer fans across our country."
Anselmi added, "GolTV will create greater programming opportunities for our soccer club Toronto FC and also help the growth of Major League Soccer in Canada."
GolTV's current soccer programming ranges from live league action from Europe and South America to behind the scenes access to some of soccer's biggest superstars in the world. GolTV Canada will also have exclusive coverage of qualifying Italian, Spanish and South American matches leading up to the 2010 World Cup.
GolTV US will still retain an ownership stake of 19.9 per cent in GolTV Canada and will supply soccer game broadcasts from South American and various European leagues.
Major League Soccer is North America's premier professional soccer league and is in its 15th season. Recent expansion has resulted in 15 Major League Soccer teams with the League intending to expand to 18 teams by 2011.