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The FA Cup to be exclusively free-to-air from 2021

Performances like Manchester City's 6-0 drubbing of Watford in this season's FA Cup final will now be shown exclusively on free-to-air television

23 May, 2019 — By John Evans

Fans celebrating during Manchester City’s 6-0 victory over Watford in the FA Cup final 

THE FA Cup will be shown exclusively on free-to-air television from the 2021 after ITV joined the BBC in winning rights to broadcast the competition.

The four-year deal means ITV will replace BT Sport in sharing rights with the BBC from the 2021-22 season, and will show more than 20 matches a season and the deal also includes live coverage of the Community Shield.

Manchester City are the current FA Cup kings after beating Watford in the final on May 18. Their manager, Pep Guardiola, revealed before the match that as a kid in Catalonia he remembered watching FA Cup finals ”…and it always looked so beautiful and inspiring”.

Well his side certainly played the more beautiful and inspiring game of the two finalists at Wembley this season as City ran out overwhelming 6-0 winners. In doing so they secured the elusive treble of trophies having also won the Premier League at the League Cup.

City’s style and speed in the FA Cup final was simply too good for Watford, who were content to put men behind the ball from the start and hope for their own slice of inspiration with the odd break. But when they did make the odd break early on, it turned out that City keeper Ederson was up to the challenge as he denied the onrushing Roberto Pereyra.

For Watford, unlike the semi-final defeat of Wolves, this time their opponents were far less intimidated and City scored steadily throughout the match – in the  26th, 38th, 61st, 68th, 81st and 87th minutes.

The irony is that with City’s FA Cup success, and having already qualified for the Champions League, it is Wolves who finished seventh in the league, and therefore qualify for Europe the first time for 39 years. And Watford, of course, who miss out.

City took the lead on 26 minutes when David Silva found himself room on the left and, just about onside, managed to slip the ball past a hapless Heurelho Gomes.

As half-time approached, Gabriel Jesus reacted far more quickly to a floated cross from Bernardo Silva, with Gomes and defender Kiko Femenia failing to clear, as he judged the ball beautifully and turned it towards the back of net, where Raheem Sterling pounced to score.

City’s third was excellent. Substitute Kevin De Bruyne, having just come on for Riyad Mahrez, was calmness itself as he finished off a clinical attack involving Jesus, Sterling, and then Jesus again.

As Watford’s men tired, Jesus added a fourth on 68 minutes beating the defence with ease following a De Bruyne pass. Sterling then stole the show with two more goals to complete a Wembley hat-trick, although somewhat surprisingly the man-of-the-match award went to team-mate De Bruyne.


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