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FA Cup TV sell-off to TNT sport

FA Cup TV sell-off to TNT Sport ignites fan fury and claims of greed

FA Cup

The old magic is in the air again. The unique sorcery of the FA Cup is about to flood Wembley
Stadium once more. There is nothing else like it in all of football.
Coventry City versus Manchester United on Sunday, April 21 is a game with the potential to
create another classic episode in the magnificent story of the world’s oldest national competition
of any kind in the sport.
However, a new survey has revealed that the coming switch of full TV coverage of the FA Cup
from BBC and ITV to the satellite broadcaster TNT has given fans a major concern – that once
again, the authorities are placing greed before the glory of the Beautiful Game.
Resurrected from near extinction and a slump from England’s top flight to League Two,
Championship side Coventry take on the might of United, who have lifted the trophy 12 times.
The tie brims with the potential to showcase the FA Cup’s epic tradition, history and glory.
Another memorable giant killing is in prospect.
So why, in their wisdom, have the Football Association sold off most of the rights to cover ties to
TNT – accelerating the general migration of football broadcasting away from free-to-air,
available to all, mainstream and terrestrial channels?
Naturally enough, the move has re-confirmed the view among many fans that greed and
commercialism have taken over to the detriment of the tournament’s spell-binding customs and
long-cherished values.

In a new survey prompted by the sale of the rights to TNT – carried out on behalf of WDW Bingo

  • no fewer than 64 percent of supporters questioned said they would NOT pay to watch the FA
    Cup on TNT.
    What’s more, a massive 84 percent of respondents said that “greed is ruining traditional
  • A huge 85 percent of those questioned fear that more free-to-air sporting events will be snapped up by pay-to-view channels.

A limited number of games will still be shown free-to-air, including the cup final – with The Guardian newspaper suggesting a figure of two games per round. This is a big and important issue at the heart of football ahead of a weekend which propels the FA Cup back on to centre stage, with holders Manchester City meeting Chelsea in the other semi-final. The new four-year broadcast deal with TNT begins in 2025-2026; the season after next so not that far away. It will mark an end to the current package in which games are shown by BBC and ITV.

In full, a total of 1004 respondents answered seven critical questions about the issue, Here are
the answers

1: Will you pay for TNT Sports to watch the FA Cup?YES: 36% NO: 64%

2: Do you think TNT Sports should be covering the FA Cup?YES: 46% NO 54%

3: Do you currently pay to watch TNT Sports?YES: 30% NO: 70%

4: Will the Switch to TNT Sports ruin the enjoyment of the FA Cup?YES: 49% NO: 51%

5: Is greed ruining traditional football?YES: 84% NO: 16%

6: Do you watch the FA Cup?YES: 85% NO: 15%

7: Could you see other free-to-view sporting events switching to pay-per-view channels?YES: 85% NO: 15%

Just this season, the current set-up has proven its popularity and its value to the nation on occasions like the historic 2-1 defeat of Championship side Ipswich Town by sixth-tier National League South outfit Maidstone United in the Fourth Round in January. An FA Cup classic. Likewise, the live coverage of the earlier rounds featuring many non-league clubs and teams from League One and League Two has proven to be superb and uplifting showcases for the efforts of the smaller teams on fabulously wintry English nights. The packed, tightly enclosed confines of non-league grounds and the raucous, good-natured noise of the crowds at these games have provided captivating viewing.
Already, subscriptions to three major pay-to-view broadcasters – Sky, TNT and Amazon – are required to watch the Premier League and European football. Now viewers will be asked to fork out yet more cash. FA Chief Executive Mark Bullingham justified the deal by saying: “TNT Sports are an outstanding broadcaster with an impressive record of showing some of the biggest and best sporting events around the world.”
“We are delighted to be working with them on our shared commitment and long-term vision that will ensure the Emirates FA Cup continues to thrive over the coming years.”
TNT’s statement added: that the package “will ensure that the world’s longest-running national knockout football competition continues to be as broadly available as possible across the UK”.
“Selected matches from every round will be available free-to-air, and highlights of every game will be made available.”
Fine words. But this survey says that they are not enough to ease the worries of embattled football fans.