Sport on TV: Auntie Beeb itching for a fight as old silverware is scrapped

When something is comic and tragic all at once, surely it's worth waiting for? So it may have taken three hours and 24 minutes for Middlesbrough to score the solitary goal that beat Sheffield United in the FA Cup (BBC1, Wednesday), but it was a moment of exquisite drama. If it wasn't the grand old "romance of the Cup", the tribulation of Paddy Kenny was at the very least heartbreaking.

Gary Lineker kicked off the replay coverage with the words: "Remember the first time these two teams met?" A dire, goalless Sunday 10 days before. "We'd rather you didn't."

"Who's playing again?" Alan Hansen asked. At the end, he was at his most funereal: "We're all looking forward to the News." And yet more doom and gloom.

The BBC have expended a lot of time and effort waiting for such moments. Their association with the Cup stretches back to the first televised final, Preston against Huddersfield in 1938; the first non-final tie was Charlton versus Blackburn in 1947. But after 60 years, Setanta and ITV have snatched away the rights from the BBC and Sky in a £425 million, four-year deal.

It seems the BBC have simultaneously lost interest in the most famous cup competition in the world, echoing the disenchantment which is de rigueur among Premier League clubs and even those chasing promotion from the Championship.

Why, for instance, did they not show Chasetown of the Southern League Midlands Division, the lowest-ranked side ever to reach the third round, against Cardiff? It was even a 1pm kick-off, so there was no clash with the out-of-bounds 3pm slot. Surely even John Motson has never been to the Scholars' ground before. Havant & Waterlooville forced a replay at home to Swansea but even with 11 days to work it out, the Beeb opted for the all-Premier League affair of Manchester City versus West Ham – it took them 163 minutes to be bothered to put the ball in the net – instead of witnessing the Hawks' astonishing 4-2 victory.

When the minnows then went to Anfield, surely the kick-off time could have been changed from 3pm? After all, TV is omnipotent when it comes to football.

Now it is rumoured the BBC will expend £300m on acquiring joint rights to the Champions' League, paying well over the odds due to complications with sponsors' advertising needs.

In a bid to claw back some of the sporting riches they have lost over the past decade, they are prepared to splash the cash – your cash. Amir Khan's contract to fight on ITV ends this summer and they want him to swap corners – Khan came to prominence in the BBC's coverage of the Athens Olympics. And Des Lynam, the darling of BBC Sport until he went to ITV in 1999, returns soon with a brand-new concept, 'Sport Mastermind' (actually, let's face it, it's recycled). Meanwhile the FA Cup, the oldest football competition in the world, has been reduced to its own "minnow" status.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Sheridan Maine: Accounts Assistant

£12 - £15 Hourly Rate: Sheridan Maine: Are you an experienced Accounts Assista...

Sheridan Maine: Accounts Payable Clerk

£21,000 - £24,000 Annual: Sheridan Maine: Are you looking for a new opportunit...

Sheridan Maine: Finance Manager

£55,000 - £65,000 Annual: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accountant with ...

Sheridan Maine: Commercial Finance Analyst

£50,000 - £60,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accountant with previou...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor