1320 UPDATE – The Football Association has confirmed that the BBC and Sky have lost the rights to screen live matches from the FA Cup. The two broadcasters have been trumped by a joint bid from Setanta Sports and ITV worth £425 million (€625m). The four-year deal, commencing August 2008, represents a 42% increase on the previous agreement.
Setanta will screen a total of 17 live matches from the competition, while ITV will take 12, with the first pick of games in each round.
Although the FA Cup has in recent years lost some of its magic, as teams field weakened sides in the earlier rounds, it is still English football’s leading cup competition. England internationals played at Wembley are also included in the deal.
Dublin-based Setanta has been gradually building its sports portfolio. It already has the rights to two out of the six English Premiership packages from the start of next season, the Scottish Premier League, and 40 golf tournaments. It is also the first major acquisition since former BBC chairman Michael Grade joined ITV as executive chairman.
It is also a potential blow for the BBC’s high definition sports coverage as it removes the majority of live football from both BBC HD and BBC One.