African fans fume as Premier League goes off air

African fans of the English Premier League were dealt a huge blow over the weekend when the British company which broadcasts games across the continent collapsed.

The failure meant subscribers to the GTV service, including many bar owners, were left without pictures.

Gateway Broadcast Services, which supplies the GTV service to subscribers, said on Friday it had approved a plan to liquidate the company after it failed to secure further funding for the continued operation of the business.

"Increased instability in global markets interrupted our ability to secure funding on an acceptable timescale and have left us no choice but to cease operations," a company spokesman said in a statement on the GTV Web site.

"We realise the negative impact this has had on our loyal customers, creditors and staff. We have tried every possible step to keep the company going but we are all the unfortunate victims of the current global economic crisis."

Fans, and particularly bar owners, were devastated with the development.

Manchester United fan Caroline Karanja in Nairobi was so disappointed she was lost for words and went into prayer that either GTV returned or another channel showed the matches.

Joseph Ndung'u, manager of the canopied Verandah Bar which lines Kenyatta Avenue in the capital's Central Business District, said the lack of Premier League matches would seriously damage his business.

"This thing (football on GTV and DSTV) was a money minter," he told Reuters. "We sold out at weekends. Yesterday we were disappointed because the Chelsea versus Liverpool match would have sold out our stock as usual. It is a disaster," he said.

GTV had the right to show the majority of Premier League matches in 22 countries in sub Sahara Africa. Rival DSTV, owned by South Africa's Multichoice, held the balance.