Thursday, January 08, 2009

Are Kettering Town being kept off television because they are sponsored by a Palestinian charity?

A non League club is drawn at home against a Premiership club in the fourth round of the FA Cup. So the tie is a certainty to be shown live on television, you would think.


Neither ITV nor Setanta is planning to show Kettering Town vs Fulham as one of the five games they are screening live between them.

Why is this? Could it possibly be because Kettering's shirt sponsor is Interpal, a charitable organisation that distributes aid in the Palestinian territories?

Mentioning the story in passing this morning, the Guardian said that this is the explanation that will attract "conspiracists". But as a press release on Kettering Town's website says:
yesterday afternoon ITV and Setanta took the almost unprecedented step of not choosing as one of their live matches a non-league team drawn at home to a Premier League side. Not only is it a tradition that such a tie is screened live, the schedule chosen contradicts the Football Association’s stated objective “to use The FA Cup to redistribute funds throughout the game” as Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham were all screened live in the 3rd round, whilst Tottenham will be live on TV for six consecutive games.
The release goes on to say:
Kettering Town have today decided to offer ITV another opportunity to broadcast our game against Fulham live and will waive our right to the £160,000 fee we would be entitled to. Furthermore, if ITV are unable to fit our game into any of their four channels, over the four day period set aside for 4th round games, we will allow Setanta Sports to screen our game, on any of their seven channels, again waiving the £160,000 fee.

If, for any reason, neither ITV or Setanta can fit the game into the eleven channels and four days of programming we would ask the FA to allow the game to be moved to another date, as happened in the first round of the FA Cup, to assist ITV and Setanta with their scheduling.

And finally, if for any reason, none of the three options above works, we have other non-subscription TV channels that would be willing to screen the game live or allow ITV or Setanta to use their platform on any date the FA choose.
The latest suggestion is that the game will be shown by Setanta in full on a delayed-coverage basis, before the ITV's highlights show. But that still seems very much second best.

It is hard to think of any sound footballing or scheduling reason why this game should not be shown live.

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