FA confirms ESPN's FA Cup rights deal

Wednesday, December 9 2009, 09:16 GMT

By Andrew Laughlin,

The Football Association has confirmed a four-year rights deal with ESPN to cover FA Cup games, along with England Under-21s and the upcoming Women's Super League.

As revealed yesterday, the deal will commence in summer 2010 and run until the close of the 2013/14 season. It will sit alongside the FA's existing FA Cup and England senior games contract with ITV, which runs until 2012.

Under the estimated 60m deal for rights previously owned by collapsed broadcaster Setanta, ESPN will be able to broadcast 25 FA Cup matches each season, including two quarter-finals (plus up to one replay), a semi-final game and a simulcast of the final with ITV. Both broadcasters will also offer the games in high definition.

For the current season, the FA will broadcast up to two games from each round of the FA Cup on its website. The official body will also "continue to host games online in the future as the project expands".

ESPN's deal further includes all England Under-21s home matches from next season and exclusive media rights to the launch of the Women's Super League in 2011.

"We are extremely pleased to have added ESPN to our list of broadcast partners. As a global broadcaster, who have already demonstrated a strong presence in the UK, ESPN will give our football great visibility and we look forward to an excellent partnership with them," said FA chief executive Ian Watmore.

"Whilst it's a very different market to two years ago, we have nevertheless taken our time and as a result have received some strong, credible bids."

ESPN EMEA vice president of TV channels Jeroen Oerlemans added: "The FA Cup is one of the great UK sports properties and will add to an already strong lineup of top-quality football on ESPN.

"We look forward to bringing these matches to our fans in brilliant HD. We are delighted to have been awarded these exclusive domestic rights, which are another significant step in growing our presence in the UK."