FA Cup, the world’s oldest soccer competition, is about to make history with its first live appearances ever on U.S. broadcast television when FOX Sports airs a third-round match next month and the final in May 2013.
The third-round match airs Saturday, Jan. 5 (12:00 PM ET) and features English Premier League teams West Ham United and 11-time FA Cup champion Manchester United, as both teams look to stay alive in the single-elimination tournament. The FA Cup Final is set to air live on FOX, Saturday, May 11, (12:00 PM ET), live from London’s legendary Wembley Stadium.
Over the last two seasons, FOX Sports has aired a combination of nine live and encore world-class matches from the English Premier League and UEFA Champions League in the U.S, averaging 1.5 million viewers each. The match on Jan. 5 marks the sixth time Manchester United and its star-studded offense, anchored by Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie, have played on FOX in the last two years. Throughout the 2012-13 season, FOX Soccer and its premium network, FOX Soccer Plus, are home to more than 50 FA Cup matches as the exclusive U.S. rights holders.
“We are committed to bringing the world’s most storied competitions and prestigious matches to soccer fans across the nation,” said David Nathanson, Executive Vice President and General Manager, FOX Soccer. “By making history and bringing such a famous property to a broader audience on FOX, we are showcasing some of the most intriguing storylines in all of sports.”
Founded in 1871, the FA Cup is the world’s oldest soccer competition and one of the only single-elimination tournaments in the sport that matches lower-division teams with first-division clubs. Each year, amateur players and teams are tasked with defeating some of the game’s biggest names, often resulting in true David vs. Goliath battles and historic upsets. The FA Cup offers entry to any team in the top ten divisions of English soccer, with the 2011-12 tournament hosting more than 760 teams from across the country. Beginning with the third round, Barclays Premier League teams join the competition to produce some of the most anticipated matchups of the tournament.
As the tournament’s most successful team in history, Manchester United is hoping to add to its 11 FA Cup titles under the direction of renowned manager Sir Alex Ferguson. The Red Devils finished last year’s tournament with an early exit in the fourth-round, losing to fierce BPL rival Liverpool FC 2-1 at Anfield. Newly promoted BPL side West Ham is also on the quest for more silverware, as the London-based club has won the tournament three times and finished second twice, most recently in 2006 when The Hammers lost on penalties (3-1) to Liverpool.
Last year’s tournament was also marked by a captivating FA Cup Final won by Chelsea over Liverpool 2-1, garnering 396,000 viewers on FOX Soccer. The Blues claimed their fourth FA Cup title in six years, capped by a winning goal from Didier Drogba – the only player to score in four consecutive FA Cup Final appearances. Each year, the winner of the FA Cup automatically qualifies for the UEFA Europa League.
Viewers can also see a repeat of the match later that day at 2:30 PM ET on FOX Soccer, followed by more live FA Cup third-round action when Swansea City takes on Arsenal Sunday, Jan. 6 at 8:25 AM ET.