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TV banks on Harriers exit
9:00am Thursday 23rd January 2014 in Sport By Steve Carley - Midlands Sports Journalist of the Year 2013, @stevecarleyWN
ON Saturday, Kidderminster Harriers play their biggest cup match in two decades when they visit Sunderland in the FA Cup fourth round.
Not since the Aggborough outfit reached the fifth round in the 1993-94 season have they enjoyed such a successful run in the competition.
Back then, they were eventually beaten by West Ham, having previously seen off Birmingham City and Preston North End.
Now they travel to the Stadium of Light dreaming of causing what would be one of the biggest upsets of recent times by beating the Premier League strugglers.
I, for one, will be wishing them well and hoping they can write another triumphant chapter into their FA Cup history.
But their chances of upsetting the odds can be summed up by the decision of ITV and BT Sport to side-step the tie for live television coverage.
If the television companies really do care about the so-called magic of the FA Cup, why aren’t they focusing on the non-league flag-bearers?
Well, for one simple reason. They expect Harriers to lose, and by quite a margin as well.
If the game was at Aggborough, it would have been a shoe-in for live coverage as a possible upset at an unfashionable ground ticks all the boxes for the television executives.
That’s why Everton’s trip to Stevenage and Liverpool’s visit to Bournemouth have been chosen. The possibility of a one-sided match in front of a half-empty stadium, however, doesn’t have the same pulling power.
Although Coventry City’s tie at Arsenal bucks the trend, the Sky Blues are in League One and not the Skrill Premier.
Harsh though it may seem on Harriers, that is the reality of the situation. In the eyes of the television companies, they don’t stand a chance.
So wouldn’t it be great if Andy Thorn’s side could spring a surprise and effectively stick two fingers up at the likes of ITV and BT Sport for ignoring them.
Harriers haven’t got this far just to throw in the towel and bank a cheque. They won Peterborough and they want to do the same at Sunderland, or at the very least get them back to Aggborough for a replay.
Surely that one would be on television?
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