Scottish Cup final may move from traditional slot for TV deal

Celtic's triumph in May could be the last Scottish Cup final to be held in the traditional Saturday 3pm slot. Picture: SNS/Rob Casey
Celtic's triumph in May could be the last Scottish Cup final to be held in the traditional Saturday 3pm slot. Picture: SNS/Rob Casey
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The Scottish Cup Final could be moved from its 
traditional 3pm Saturday afternoon kick-off time in order to accommodate a new TV deal.

Scottish FA chief executive Ian Maxwell has admitted nothing “is off the table” during ongoing negotiations over a broadcasting contract for the country’s showpiece tournament.The existing deal, shared between Sky Sports and BBC Scotland, expired last month when Celtic defeated Motherwell 2-0 in the Scottish Cup Final.The English FA Cup Final was moved to a 5.15pm kick-off in 2012 in a bid to increase global viewing figures, remaining in a tea-time slot ever since on BT Sport who are among the potential bidders for the new Scottish Cup contract.

The switch in England has proved unpopular with traditionalists and many fans’ groups but Maxwell, pictured, insists it would be foolish of the Scottish FA to rule out following suit.

“I’ll be honest with you, I don’t think anything is off the table,” said Maxwell. “You would be daft to go into a negotiation with a position of ‘we don’t want, we don’t want, we don’t want’.

“There is obviously a value attached to all these things and it’s about getting as much as we possibly can. If that’s a decision that is made because we think it is in the best interests of the association and Scottish football, then so be it.”The Scottish FA announced group turnover of £38.4 million for 2017 at its annual general meeting at Hampden yesterday – a 7.5 per cent increase on the previous year and the second-highest it has ever posted.

Almost a third of that revenue was from broadcasting deals, while 10 per cent came from sponsorship. Recently-appointed Maxwell, 
however, has inherited a situation which sees not only the Scottish Cup TV contract up for renewal but also the end of Vauxhall’s sponsorship of the national team. He is optimistic the financial gaps will be filled in time for the new season.

“Our commercial director
Chris Rawlings and his guys have been working really hard upstairs over the summer on renewals on the deals that have lapsed,” added Maxwell.

“They have been having a look at what we sell, how we sell and whether we can do things a bit differently. We hope to be in a position, whether it is a few weeks or a month, to say we have got a deal for the Scottish Cup.

“It is a challenge, it is not ideal that a lot of these things have happened at the same time. But a lot of it is the nature of the industry we are in – deals run out. It is not desperation from our point of view – it is well documented that the sponsorships are up but there are a number of people who are interested.

“It comes down to everyone’s negotiating skill. When you look at Scottish football and are trying to sell it, you’ve got Steven Gerrard coming in at Rangers, you’ve got Hibs and Aberdeen doing well in the last couple of seasons – there are a lot of things that we have to talk up and use it as leverage to get the best deal we can.”