The FA Cup Semi-final on TV at the same time as Chelsea v United…what will you watch?
The BBC and the Football Association have decided to head down a collision course with Sky Sports’ Premier League coverage on Saturday by placing the first FA Cup semi-final at the same time as Chelsea’s match against Manchester United. The decision has caused considerable surprise amongst many sports fans, with the BBC havinghad a choice of scheduling slots this weekend but decided to opt for the 5.20pm kick-off for the match between Arsenal and Reading on Saturday.Sky Sports and the Premier League had decided in February that the game between Chelsea and Manchester United would be screened at 5.30pm on Saturday even if it was still highly possible for United to be involved in one of the FA Cup semi-finals which had that happened, the FA Cup would have taken priority and the Chelsea match would almost certainly have been rescheduled for live coverage on a weekday evening. A top football betting expert has a theory that seems very likely and that is that Sky chose the Manchester United and Chelsea game in the knowledge that there was a good chance that the fixture would have to be moved.
When coming to decide who played and when, the BBC and FA clearly decided that they should not lose the prime-time Saturday evening slot just because Sky had scheduled their highest profile game of the season at that time, and who would blame them. The dates for the FA Cup semi-finals were set last summer and so it could easily be argued that it would be better for the Premier League to keep the leading clubs apart on this weekend so as to avoid any prospect of a major clash. As it is, many football fans will have to choose between live coverage of the two matches on Saturday or as a top football tipster will do, watch 2 televisions simultaneously.
The BBC said on Wednesday that a variety of factors would have been considered before they opted for the 5.20pm slot: “The scheduling was agreed after conversations with the FA and Police,” a BBC spokesman said. “We hope our audience will enjoy the underdogs Reading against the holders Arsenal live on BBC One followed by extended highlights of Chelsea v Man Utd on Match of the Day on Saturday evening.”The fact that the FA Cup game is on terrestrial television will clearly guarantee a larger audience than the Chelsea v Manchester United match especially considering a peak of 8.9 million viewers watched the game between Arsenal and Manchester United in the previous round of the FA Cup.What is rather more opf a serious problem for Londoners in general, is that with only eight miles between Wembley and Stamford Bridge, the virtual simultaneous scheduling of the matches will also ensure a major policing operation in West London on Saturday evening, but obviously the Police are ok with it as football match kick-off times, can only be confirmed with the approval both of the police and local authorities.
Reading manager, Steve Clarke, questioned the scheduling, but was much more critical ofthe gap between the FA Cup semi-finals and the final on May 30th, especially considering the Championship season ends on May 2, meaning there would be four full weeks between Reading’s last match of the league season and a final against Liverpool or Aston Villa, showing signs that he has the hope of beating Arsenal and getting to the final, something the world’s best football tipster might not agree with.“There will be 31,000 Reading fans in the stadium and anyone that’s a Reading fan that’s not got a ticket will be watching on the TV,” Clarke said. “The only game I’m interested in is Reading against Arsenal. I thought it was a shame in the last round when we had to play on the Monday night after playing on the Saturday.There are things that we should do to protect this great competition. It should be special. When we beat Arsenal we have to wait for four weeks to play the Cup final. This is also not correct. I’ll probably need to go on holiday for two of them and then bring the team back in. It’s a long break. We get to the final, what do we do from the second of May to the 30th? Everyone else is playing. There’s no chance to play games. Be a great puzzle to have though, wouldn’t it.” There you go,the Reading manager is sure he will be in Wembley on the 30th May, do you agree?