Sky will have the rights to 30 games, starting with Celtic versus Aberdeen at Parkhead next Saturday lunchtime, then Rangers newco's opening third division encounter at Peterhead on August 11. ESPN would have 35 live games and the first would be Dundee United versus Hibernian on Sunday, August 5.
Herald Sport understands that a deal involving the SPL, Scottish Football League and the two broadcasters – and including rights for 15 of the newco's league games per season – will preserve most of the value of the existing £16m-a-season television agreement for the current campaign. That will spare top-flight clubs from the most severe repercussions some had feared from at least three years without the Ibrox club.
The television deal is agreed in principle but cannot be signed until Sevco Scotland Ltd's application for the transfer of Rangers' SFA membership is approved. That needs to happen before the club can play its first match at Brechin City in the Ramsdens Cup on Sunday afternoon.
In theory, approval could be given at any time up until kick-off, but practicalities and exchanges of documents essentially mean it has to be done today. But all five parties – Sevco Scotland, the oldco Rangers, the SFA, SPL and SFL – were understood to believe the discussions were almost there last night and that there will be a satisfactory conclusion, and the signing of contracts, later today.
Representatives from Charles Green's newco regime held further negotiations with Neil Doncaster, the SPL chief executive, yesterday. A major obstacle has been the SPL's view that accepting any potential punishment from its ongoing investigation into undisclosed payments to players via Employment Benefit Trusts – alleged to have happened over several years of the oldco Rangers – should be accepted by Sevco as a condition of membership. Manager Ally McCoist and some others at Ibrox have vigorously opposed any acceptance that the club could be stripped of league titles if a guilty verdict is returned.
BBC Alba will have live coverage of Rangers' tie at Brechin and yesterday the channel was continuing to plan as though the match would go ahead. As for the longer-term deal involving Sky and ESPN, the companies will discuss how the SPL and third division coverage is shared in the weeks and months ahead. "It will be up to the broadcasters to decide how the games are carved up," said a source at one SPL club.