BBC set to reveal new FA Cup deal

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The Independent Football

The declining interest in the FA Cup is likely to be confirmed today with the announcement of a new TV deal for the competition.

The BBC, which has called a press conference this morning to make a major announcement on sports rights, is expected to reveal that it has reached agreement with the Football Association on a package comprising the FA Cup and England internationals, but at a substantially reduced price in comparison with the current deal. Under the last agreement, the BBC and Sky shared the rights in a deal worth £345m over three years.

While Sky is also expected to be part of the new deal, the satellite broadcaster is thought to be much more interested in the England internationals than in the FA Cup. Under the last deal both broadcasters had the rights to show live coverage of home England matches.

With Sky having concluded a deal to cover the Champions' League from the start of the forthcoming season - ITV will still show some matches, but the vast majority of the games will be available only on Sky - it has placed much less emphasis on the importance of the domestic game's premier cup competition. For example, Sky is expected to make great play of the fact that it will be showing David Beckham and Real Madrid in the Champions' League this season.

If the new deal is at a substantially reduced level, it is likely to be the FA Cup that will feel the pinch as broadcasters remain keen to televise international matches. That would almost certainly lead to a reduction in the fees paid to clubs for televised FA Cup matches.

A smaller deal might cause some consternation within the Premier League, which is in the process of seeking bids for TV rights for its matches from the end of next season. It is doubtful whether Sky will have any realistic challengers as it attempts to renew its agreement on Premier League football, though the satellite broadcaster will be determined to keep a tight grip on the rights.

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