FA Cup likes this - live game to be shown on Facebook

Wed Aug 17, 2011 7:14am EDT
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By Mike Collett

LONDON (Reuters) - An FA Cup qualifying round tie that would normally attract a crowd of about 90 people could boast a potential global audience of 700 million after an agreement was reached to broadcast Friday's match on the social networking site Facebook.

The extra-preliminary round fixture between Ascot United and Wembley will become the first match ever to be broadcast live on the site after a deal was struck between the Football Association and the competition's new main sponsors Budweiser.

Budweiser's marketing director Iain Newell said the company, who earlier this year signed a three-year sponsorship deal with the FA worth 24 million pounds ($39.4 million), were intent on taking soccer's oldest competition back to global pre-eminence, and at the same time, take it back to the fans.

"The FA Cup started 140 years ago this year and what better way to do demonstrate our commitment than by broadcasting the very first kick to a global audience via Facebook," Newell told Reuters.

"This is the first time any match has been broadcast live on the social network which is great news for fans and clubs alike."

The clubs, who play in suburban leagues at the lower end of the English soccer pyramid, will both be paid nominal broadcast fees for the match at the ground situated within the boundaries of the Ascot Racecourse and has a capacity of around 1,500.

Ascot chairman Mike Harrison told Reuters: "Naturally this is the biggest thing that has ever happened to the club.

"People talk of the FA Cup losing its gloss and that's true if Manchester City or Bolton Wanderers put out their reserve team to play a match.   Continued...

<p>Chelsea's Shaun Wright-Phillips and Salomon Kalou celebrate with the FA Cup trophy after they beat Manchester United to take the cup at the new Wembley Stadium in London May 19, 2007. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez</p>