ESPN responds to FA Cup TV furore

| December 7, 2011 | 7 Comments

ESPN has responded to claims it has favoured the ‘usual suspects’ when choosing the FA Cup third round live games after Everton vs Tamworth was not included in the line up.

ITV and ESPN share the FA Cup television rights but opted to choose ties such as Peterborough and Sunderland, Bristol Rovers and Aston Villa and Birmingham and Wolves over any of the non league teams in the draw.

An ESPN spokesperson told “At ESPN we love the FA Cup; we love the drama, the storylines and its unique ability to connect fans and teams from across the football community in England and beyond.

“Ultimately, we serve a wide audience with an array of interests and loyalties and need to try and serve as many fans as possible while following the stories of the Cup.”

However, after giving ‘very serious consideration’ to the Tamworth game, ESPN says it chose to screen the Bristol Rovers and Birmingham ties on Saturday 7 January followed by Leed’s trip to Arsenal on the following Monday.

Meanwhile, ITV, who declined to comment on the decision, will screen Manchester City against Manchester United and Peterborough taking on Sunderland on Sunday 8 January.

The decision had sparked an angry reaction from football fans who accused the television companies of choosing the ‘big’ teams and denying non league teams important television money.

Sam Elliot, of the Non League Paper, tweeted: “Not a single Non-League club selected for FA Cup TV slots. Is this some kind of a joke? “

Elliot’s colleague, Matt Badcock, expressed similar sentiments by stating ‘non league teams in round three are what the FA Cup is about!”

Tamworth travelling to Everton is the only non league versus Premiership tie in the round, although Chelmsford could set up a tie with Bolton if they win their second round replay against Macclesfield.

Meanwhile, Wrexham will face Brighton in another non league versus Football League tie, but ESPN has argued it has already covered non league games extensively in earlier rounds.

ESPN added: “We’re fans of football of all levels and have enjoyed covering the FA Cup exploits of many non-league teams this season and last, including our first-ever FA Cup telecast (last season) when FC United knocked out Rochdale, this year’s First Round replay coverage of Stourbridge’s win over Plymouth Argyle and Fleetwood Town’s late dramatic draw against Yeovil in the Second Round.”

Everton and Tamworth fans are expected to be pleased the tie has not been chosen for television because it will now take up the traditional 3pm kick off time on a Saturday.

Everton have announced 5,900 tickets will go to away fans priced at £20 for adults, £15 for seniors and £5 for children.

Meanwhile, Liverpool’s tie against Oldham or Southend is expected to be moved to the Sunday because of the clash with Everton’s home game against Tamworth.

The FA Cup 3rd round televised games are as follows:

Saturday 7 January

Birmingham City v Wolverhampton Wanderers (12.30pm) – Live on ESPN
Bristol Rovers v Aston Villa (5.30pm) – Live on ESPN

Sunday 8 January 2012

Manchester City v Manchester United (1.00pm) – Live on ITV1
Peterborough United v Sunderland (3.30pm) – Live on ITV1
The draw for the Fourth Round Proper will follow this tie at approx 5.30pm on ITV1

Monday 9 January 2012

Arsenal v Leeds United (7.45pm) – Live on ESPN

Category: Everton FC, News

Comments (7)

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  1. graeme says:

    i do subscribe sometimes to ESPN an keep cancelling it.When asked by the telephoneist why? I reply everytime ‘ theres only one premiership game each week why dont you show more lower division football especially blue square and possibly do a round up program etc. ‘ They dont listen. Here with the FAcup is a prime example of not takeing an opportunity to showcase non league football against the elite.Not only these teams need a chance to earn some much needed cash which they deserve for getting so far but also the reconition they also deserve for produceing talented teams from cheap transfers and home grown players which is alot more to say about teams such as man city and chelsea etc.who obvious dont need the money for tv coverage as they are willing to pay excruciatingly high transfers and wages for these players.


    • Nick BRFC says:

      The above poster is missing the point completely. TV stations don’t have any obligation to show non league teams but they do have an obligation to their subscribers to show what they feel to be entertaining football. With the greatest respect to Tamworth going away to goodison park they are very likely to get turned over, making for a rather unentertaining spectacle. Had Tamworth been at home then im sure ESPN would of shown it. Rovers at home to villa represents a better chance of an upset (just).

      As for the comment about money, I can assure you Bristol Rovers struggle for money as much as Tamworth do. Yes we may have a bigger source of income but the wage bill is much higher so finances are equally as tight. Also Tamworth will already of made considerable money from just getting this far. Lets not forget the number of non league teams that ESPN have already showed in rounds one and two.

      Finally as for your comments on why dont espn show more non league, do you not remember setanta?? they tried it, no one watched it and they went bust, its unfortunately commercial suicide.

      • admin says:

        Graeme and Nick, good points all round. What we have to remember is Peterborough, Bristol Rovers et al get very little coverage and this is a great opportunity for them. Plus, I’m sure Tamworth fans are pleased of a Saturday game. Imagine how Leeds fans feel!

        However, non league clubs need publicity more than most and the FA Cup is traditionally a great shop window for them. This feels like a missed opportunity and a move away from the traditions of the tournament. people want to see non league vs Premiership.

        Saying that, ESPN were very open, honest and believable in their motives for choosing the games they did. Pity ITV would not even give us the courtesy of a reply.

  2. Real Football Fan says:

    No one wants to watch non-league football. Its an embarrassment to the English game.

    • nick.pcfc says:

      wise words from a Season ticket holder

    • Richard Quinn says:

      I disagree that non-league football is an embarrassment to the English game. Who says so? Premier league fans forking out extortionate prices to watch 90 minutes of football. Over 10,000 clubs take part at various levels in non league football and surely they deserve some support and recognition. Non league football can be enjoyed at a reasonable price and substitute the private boxes, smoked salmon and champagne with real working class people supporting the game at grass roots level complete with meat pie and bovril in hand. The FA Cup is the greatest cup competition in the world because it gives an opportinity for non league clubs to compete with the big fish. Premier league fans may think the FA Cup begins in January, it actaully kicks off in August!

  3. Ukrainian Phil says:

    As a fan of non-league York City I find this an absolute disgrace. Last season we played the biggest game in our clubs history; an away tie at Premier League Bolton Wanderers . That game got overlooked in favour of the more fashionable clubs despite a superb performance from City in which we only narrowly lost to two late goals. The game epitomized the romance of the FA Cup as our team consisting of the likes of of postmen, bankers, supermarket workers and truck drivers managed to take it to a PL club infront of our 3000 travelling support, the biggest away following York has ever had watching them.

    TV companies like ITV and ESPN really are killing off the romance of the FA Cup by constantly overlooking us small non-league over achievers.

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