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Evening final may be on agenda as Man United count the cost of FA Cup exit

Football News 24/7
Manchester United are counting the cost of yet another cup exit. It's been a bad season for Sir Alex Ferguson's men. missing out on the Champions League knock out stages and seeing arch rivals Liverpool make the final of the Carling Cup. It was a bitter pill to swallow for Ferguson that United lost to their great rivals in Saturday's fourth round FA cup tie. United have more to lose than most clubs. Not only does a home tie potentially see a 70,00 plus gate, virtually all their cup ties are live on TV somewhere. The combination of revenues plus prize money would have run into millions if United were to reach the final.

This cuts off another solid revenue stream at the end of a week when FA general secretary Alex Horne revealed that negotiations are ongoing to ensure that the Cup final can return to being a stand alone game. Horne's comments on the FA Cup came as the FA released a new report, undertaken by Deloitte, which highlighted the financial impact of the competition to participating clubs.

The findings show that a total of almost £650m was generated in prize money, TV payments and gate receipts for participating clubs in the 10 years between 2001/02 and 2010/11.

And Horne was keen to point out the cash windfall that the Cup provides has an impact for teams at all levels.

"What this report reveals is the huge financial incentives for teams participating in the FA Cup. You only have to look at Crawley Town last season, who earned £1m from a single game against Manchester United, a truly phenomenal amount of money for a then non-league football club."

A successful cup run can also prove a lifeline to many struggling lower league clubs given that prize money for the 10-year period totalled £230m with £24.5m paid out last season alone.

"They're big numbers and they're not budgeted by clubs as they don't expect to progress in the competition. It's a windfall," said Horne.

In the same statement Horne also revealed that the FA are talking to the Premier League about whether there's a way to create a Saturday when the FA Cup can stand on its own. This follows widespread criticism that sees the final played this year on the same dat as a full Premier League fixture list.

"We have a situation with international player release, and particularly, in 2013 when the Uefa Champions League final is to be played at Wembley, where we know it can't be the last game of the season.

"It won't be the last Saturday of the season but I think we can achieve a situation where it's on its own on a Saturday and I think it's important it's given that space."

The FA Cup final is currently scheduled for the 5th of May, with a full round of Premier League games also scheduled for the weekend with the League contractually obliged to hold a match at 1245 GMT on that day on Sky Sports, while Horne revealed that the cup final's kick-off time was likely to change from the planned 1500 GMT as a solution.

If an English team were to be involved then there would realistically be a demand from the club to play its Premier League fixture on Saturday 5th, allowing a full four days recuperation before the European showcase. If an English team were to be involved then there would realistically be a demand from the club to play its Premier League fixture on Saturday 5th, allowing a full four days recuperation before the European showcase.

Horne also confirmed that the traditional 1500 BST kick-off for the final would likely change.

He said: "We're talking about moving [the final] to an early evening slot and I think what that does is enable all of the football that's played across the country at 3pm on a Saturday not to be affected by the FA Cup final so that the supporters watching and playing in their local games can get back and enjoy the FA Cup or stay in their club houses."

A change in kick-off time is likely to anger many traditionalists but the FA also wants to maximise interest in the final from overseas.

Horne said: "The FA Cup is a big brand globally, there are half a billion people who watch the FA Cup final played all around the world.

"What's interesting is that we're seeing very strong numbers from our overseas TV deals and we need to follow that up with interest and affection for the competition."

Malcolm Clark, chairman of the Football Supporters Federation, is pleased that the FA is attempting to secure a dedicated day for the FA Cup final.

"We would like to see a 3pm kick-off on a dedicated Saturday remain. But we understand that the FA and the TV companies are keen to increase the audience by moving it to early evening" said Clark.

"Our concern though is that an early evening kick-off will cause significant travel issues for fans attending the final. It's not a problem to get home from Wembley for fans of say Chelsea or Tottenham. But supporters from northern clubs will face issues."

"We'd like to see the FA talking to rail and bus companies about the availability of transport after the Cup final has finished."

JB

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