English FA announce lucrative Asian TV deal

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LONDON, Nov 9 (Reuters) The English FA announced a hugely improved TV rights deal today for broadcasting FA Cup and England matches in Asia.

In a statement on their Web site (www.thefa.com), the FA said that ESPN Star Sports, M-League and IMG will have exclusive rights to broadcast FA Cup and England matches within Asia for 2008-2012.

The majority of rights within Asia were acquired by ESPN Star Sports, the FA's current partner within the region.

IMG has acquired rights for Japan and the Indian sub-continent with M-League acquiring all broadcast rights for Thailand.

The Asia partnerships together represent the largest regional market in the FA's new range of deals for its international broadcast rights.

The total of those deals is now worth over 300 million dollars, a 275 per cent increase on the current four-year deal worth million.

The FA's commercial director Jonathan Hill said: ''We are delighted that we have renewed our relationship with ESPN Star Sports in what was an intensely competitive market and we look forward to continuing to grow our brands in Asia with ESS's significant marketing support and leverage.'' The FA's Head of Broadcast, Stuart Turner added: ''We are pleased to be continuing our relationship with IMG who have a very strong presence in Japan and the sub-continent and we are thrilled to have a new agency partner in M-League who are committed to maximising exposure of the property in the key market of Thailand.'' The overseas deals run in parallel with The FA's new domestic TV deal with ITV and Setanta, worth 897.3 million dollars over the same 2008-2012 period, a 42 per cent increase over the current contract.

FA chief executive Brian Barwick commented: ''This new deal is excellent news for the organisation, following on the back of opening Wembley Stadium, passing the Structural Review of the organisation, finalising our commercial partner programme and securing a domestic broadcast agreement.

''It means that The FA will be in its strongest-ever financial position, allowing us to substantially increase our investment back into all levels of the game.

''The new deal also underlines the enormous popularity of the England team and The FA Cup around the world, at a time when FIFA has opened the way for a possible English bid for the 2018 World Cup.'' REUTERS TB KP2025

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