TV fans on the sidelines as FA Cup hots up

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 January, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 January, 2002, 12:00am

TV soccer fans will miss out on the third round of the English FA Cup, which kicks off tonight.

Cable TV spokeswoman Chan So-kuen said last night the company was 'still in negotiations with the rights holder' to try to screen the competition, which is joined in the third round by Premiership and First Division clubs. She said even if a deal were struck for this season, it would be too late for this weekend.

Matches include today's clash between cup holders Liverpool and Birmingham City and tomorrow's all-Premiership match between Aston Villa and Manchester United.

In recent years, Hong Kong fans have had to endure a nail-biting wait to see if major soccer matches will be screened. Last year, the FA Cup was brought to screens only at the quarter-finals stage after Cable TV clinched an agreement with Star TV after months of haggling.

The right to broadcast English Premier League matches was also secured just two weeks before the start of this season.

Cable TV had held the rights to broadcast the FA Cup in Hong Kong until last January, when they went to ESPN. Cable TV struck a deal in April with ESPN Asia to bring the sports channel back to Hong Kong.

This deal covered the English Premier League and the UEFA Champions League, which had been off Hong Kong screens for two seasons.

It is understood the English FA Cup was not included in the agreement.