The FA have taken matters into their own hands this week, streaming two games from the FA Cup 5th round on their official Facebook page.
Wednesday morning’s clash between Reading and Sheffield United, which saw the Blades triumph 2-1 in extra time was the first game.
Leicester City’s home fixture against Championship side Birmingham City, which kicks off at 6:45 AEDT is the second game that will be broadcast live onto Facebook.
As is the case with Facebook streaming, fans will not have to pay a single cent to watch this tie.
Partnering with Facebook will certainly allow the FA access to a much larger fanbase, with Facebook easily the largest social media website on the planet.
When you combine that with the lack of a fee to watch the game, fans from across the UK can watch two famous English teams do battle for a spot in the sixth round.
📲 Our #EmiratesFACup tie against Leicester City is being streamed live on Facebook to UK audiences.
— Birmingham City FC (@BCFC) March 2, 2020
The FA have previously used gambling agencies such as bet365, William Hill, Ladbrokes and Paddy Power to stream some FA Cup games. But the FA are feeling the heat in that department and now seem to be keen to use alternative websites to stream games.
A few months ago, we wrote a piece about the affect that potential changes to the UK’s Gambling Act could have on clubs who use gambling agencies as major sponsors.
The FA could be in a similar position to that, hence why they are now turning away from the gambling industry.
The aforementioned gambling agencies no longer have the rights to stream games not being streamed by major broadcasters, therefore allowing the FA to dip into social media.
Most FA Cup games are shown on major broadcast channels such as Bein Sports and mainly BT Sport in the UK.
— The Emirates FA Cup (@EmiratesFACup) March 2, 2020
The FA does give worldwide fans access to match highlights via its Twitter page, meaning that if you aren’t able to watch these games either on Bein Sports, BT Sport or on Facebook, the highlights are available after the final whistle.
Obtaining the broadcast rights for a match involving a club in the Champions League spots is a huge coup for Facebook.
When excluding their extraordinary title triumph back in 2016, many fans think of the Foxes and immediately think of a side who are probably good for middle table most seasons.
However, under Brendan Rodgers, a manager who nearly took Liverpool to an unlikely Premier League title a few years ago, Leicester fans have been able to dream again of playing European football.
Having one of their games streamed for free on the largest social media platform on the planet is a massive deal and fans in the UK would be chuffed.
The Sheffield United match was also a fantastic piece of business, especially seeing how the match played out.
Chris Wilder has taken the Blades to levels unimaginable at the start of the season. Sheffield United are an outside chance of playing European football next season, only one year after gaining promotion from the Championship.
Their match against Reading was a tightly fought contest, with an extra-time winner from Blades’ striker Billy Sharp seeing his side through to the quarter finals.
— Sheffield United (@SheffieldUnited) March 3, 2020
It is unlikely that more games in this year’s FA Cup will be shown for free on Facebook, but it certainly a great sign that the FA are willing to this and not just because it is at the behest of gambling agencies.
Would you like to see more games streamed for free online? Get involved in the discussion on Twitter @Soccersceneau
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