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Greg Dyke & Richard Sambrook at a press conference
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Thursday, 15 June, 2000, 19:05 GMT 20:05 UK
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The BBC hope to raise the profile of the FA Cup
The BBC says it will raise the profile of the FA Cup
The BBC has hailed its successful bid to broadcast live FA Cup and competitive England matches as a triumph for football.

Reacting to the news that the corporation had successfully completed a joint deal, worth 400m, with BSkyB to broadcast live matches on BBC One, Director General Greg Dyke said: "The FA Cup is coming home."

The announcement came just one day after the BBC lost its rights to Premiership highlights to rivals ITV, a move that could have spelt the end of its flagship football programme Match Of The Day.

The magic of the FA Cup is coming back home to the BBC

BBC Director General Greg Dyke
However, at a news conference, Dyke said the BBC was now perfectly positioned to recreate the "magic" of the FA Cup weekend.

"The FA Cup is coming home to the BBC," he said.

"The qualifying rounds, semi finals and, of course, all important FA Cup Final, are back in their rightful home.

"We want to turn the weekend back into an FA Cup weekend.

"All the games will be played during the weekend so when the draw is made in peak time on BBC on a Sunday, all the game's will have been played.

"It will give some shape and magic back to the FA Cup."

Match Of The Day will continue with a new 'live' format
Match Of The Day will continue with a new 'live' format
Dyke pledged to raise the profile of the competition, which suffered a huge blow this season when Manchester United opted not to compete.

"The creation of an FA Cup weekend is very exciting and the planning of it fits us perfectly," he said.

"We get first choice of the games. So we will pick what we consider the best match and screen it live on a Sunday evening. The magic of the FA Cup is coming back home to the BBC."

"And for the first time on terrestrial television, viewers will be able to see every competitive home international which England play.

"Nothing unites the country more than the national team and no broadcaster can attract an audience as big as the BBC when crucial England matches are played.

"We are looking forward to featuring England and the FA Cup on 'Match of the Day - Live'.

ITV criticised

The acting head of BBC Sport Richard Sambrook criticised the coverage given to the FA Cup by ITV, who currently hold the live contract.

"I think the FA Cup coverage has lost audiences in the years it's been on ITV," he said.

This result proves that the BBC does have the funds to bid against commercial rivals

ITV spokesman
"Very much part of our bid to the FA was that we'd build that up again and make it a real 'event'."

ITV dismissed the criticism, however, and rejected previous calls that the BBC could not compete on an equal footing for sports rights.

A spokesman said: "This result proves that the BBC does have the funds to bid against commercial rivals in the battle for sports rights.

"The BBC clearly wanted both packages, and in bidding for both were prepared to spend significant amounts of licence payers' money per year on football.

"There is no question that with the recent increase in the licence fee the BBC is an extremely competitive rival for commercial players.

"We are disappointed that our bid for the FA package has not been successful, but are delighted to have secured the key prize of the Premier League highlights to sit alongside our live coverage of the Uefa Champions League."

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See also:

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BBC 'sour' over football deal
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Match of the Day in pictures
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BBC wins back FA Cup
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The cup comes home