So let’s get this straight. If you host an FA Cup tie which is covered live by one of the two main broadcasters, you get £62,000. Yet if our match against Brighton had been played on Tuesday it would have been shown live by ESPN, and they’d have paid us both nothing! The weather saved us from feeling rather cheated!
I don’t think any blame ought to be attached to ESPN over this, or indeed S4C, whose coverage they would have used. They’re businesses, after all, and not charities. S4C in particular have shown a terrific commitment to Wrexham since our relegation, offering us excellent coverage on “Sgorio” and clearly being keen to cough up and cover our cup ties.
Their attitude to us certainly contrasts with that of ITV Wales, whose news coverage of our draw with Brighton was so embarrassing that I think I’d have been less insulted if they’d not mentioned us at all; they plonked us in as an after-thought after Cardiff and Swansea, even though ITV’s highlights programme felt we should be at the top of their programme, failed to identify our scorer and said the replay was a week earlier than it actually was. A great triumph for professional standards at the channel, I’m sure you’ll agree!
S4C, by contrast, have always seen us right. They’ve paid a fair price of £25,000 for their coverage of the game after the main broadcasters passed on their right to show it, and if ESPN offer to cover a chunk of their expenses to access their feed, they’d be crazy to say no. Good luck to them.
Likewise, ESPN initially wanted to cover the match if it could be switched to the Wednesday, sharing the cost with S4C. Seeing a chance to cover it anyway when that deal broke down was innovative thinking on their part, not a willingness to fleece us. They don’t determine who the cash goes to anyway; it’s the FA who dole out the money from a central source and seized upon the opportunity to label this game an “add-on”, whatever that means, and save themselves some cash.
That’s the FA, which bleats on about its commitment to grass roots football while pandering to the wishes of the Premiership’s financial behemoths. They might pay lip-service to the notion of acting as a high-minded guardian of the game’s spirit, but when it is confronted with a fan-owned club which is desperately looking to make ends meet, it conveniently forgets about its obligations and refuses to cough up the money it ought to give us. I can’t imagine them doing the same to Manchester United, somehow.
By the way the FA, which gets £8 million a year in sponsorship money for the FA Cup, concluded a deal with ITV on Monday which guarantees them £90 million over two years for coverage of the competition. That’s £10 million more than their internal estimate of what they thought they’d get. Yet they couldn’t see their way clear to throwing £37,000 of that surplus our way. Thank heavens a spot of frost forced their hand!