In a first for both the Football Association and Facebook, the opening match of the 2011-12 FA Cup will be screened live on the social networking site. Budweiser, the lead partner of the FA Cup, will screen a "first kick", extra preliminary match between non-league sides Ascot United and Wembley FC in front of a possible worldwide audience of 700 million people.
The 90-minute live match will be streamed via a proprietary Budweiser application, and will kick-off at 7.45pm on Friday 19 August. The live broadcast will be from 7.30pm and viewable on Budweiser UK's facebook page (www.facebook.com/BudweiserUK).
Naturally, with the potential audience, both teams involved are extremely excited. Mike Harrison, the chairman of Ascot United, is certainly thrilled: "To be involved in the first game of The FA Cup this season is an honour in itself, but to be part of a world first and have our match broadcast to a massive global audience is fantastic for our club," he says.
Budweiser also sees this as a commitment to use social networking and new technology as part of its FA Cup sponsorship: "As a long-standing supporter of football globally, Budweiser is committed to bringing the world’s most prestigious knockout competition closer to the fans," says Iain Newell, marketing director, Budweiser UK.
"What better way to demonstrate this than by broadcasting the very first kick to a global audience via Facebook. This is the first time a FA Cup tournament fixture has been broadcast live on the social network, which is great news for football fans and clubs alike."
What do you think? Should more preliminary rounds be broadcast online? And who do you want to win the first match? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below...