In the lead-up to the first Manchester Derby FA Cup Final, one of our programme leaders has been looking at the development of the large-scale event from a business and marketing point of view.

Russell Preston, our programme leader for BA (Hons) Football Business and Marketing, has spoken about the supply and demand of tickets, sponsorships and the other aspects that surround the FA Cup Final in the modern era.

Russell said: “100 years ago, we recollect the white horse of Wembley as a lasting memory of the first FA Cup Final at Wembley in 1923 between Bolton Wanderers and West Ham United. Much has changed since then.

“The iconic twin towers of Wembley set it apart from many other stadiums, but for those who ever visited, as I had on many occasions, sitting on a wooden bench or visiting the facilities were less than the sum of their parts.

“The cup final was the only live football match on TV, and perhaps that’s where the true mystique of the cup arose amongst the football supporters. 

“You have to remember at the time England internationals only had the second half broadcast live. But, what has this to do with the business of football?

Russell Preston, UCFB programme leader for BA (Hons) Football Business and Marketing

“Every year in living memory, demand exceeds supply of tickets. Consider this - if you are in the business of making money what does that immediately say to you?

“There is a product which the public want to see, so let’s make it a prestige event – so ticket prices have always been higher for the match, then consider, if it’s of that much interest, why not broadcast it to the nation?

“Even more income, then if it’s being televised, why not have advertising around the perimeter of the pitch.

“I cannot explain to you the excitement I had every year for the FA cup final. I would watch the telly from around 11am through to the conclusion of the match and that was common amongst most boys. 

“We swapped channels – ITV or BBC for the best anecdotal coverage in the build-up to the match. If you had purchased the Radio Times (what’s that?) or ITV channels equivalent, TV Times magazine you could see the timings of the activities to plan your day.

“And so here was another opportunity for broadcasters to cash in with extra advertising revenue in their magazines.

“So, the point is football has always been about business, there is no reason to believe otherwise.

“Whether the football authorities look for additional income with their own stadium, or bolt on media houses or companies advertising on the strength of the viewers watching the cup final. 

“For the first ever FA cup final replay of 1970, the tv audience peaked at just short of 29m viewers compared to around 9m for last year’s cup final, so maybe the cup final has lost its sheen, given that there are numerous live matches on TV. 

“How is this compensated? Sponsorship! So we now experience the Emirates FA cup, which is all about additional media coverage throughout each round of the FA cup which starts in August with a prize pot at the end of the rainbow. 

“Where one door closes another one opens, the product is still the same, top price this year is £145, I am personally paying £115 to watch the match, the match day programme probably will be just short of £10, everywhere, there is a way to extract money from the willing supporter. Even half-and-half scarves will be on sale.

“The facilities are much improved (the venue), prices continue to escalate, remember supply versus demand, supply is limited to stadium capacity. And then you can see football means business.”

To find out more about the football business undergraduate degree course on offer at UCFB, click here.