Sky TV found itself offside with English football fanatics in the early hours of yesterday after it cut its coverage of the FA Cup final when the game's regulation time was over.

Sky Sport 1 ignored not only extra time but the first penalty shootout in the cup's 134-year history to switch to the channel's next scheduled programme, Sports Illustrated 2005 Swimwear at Play.

Arsenal and Manchester United were tied nil-all after extra time.

Sky Digital customers found the continued coverage on sports channel ESPN, but subscribers to the cheaper UHF service were left watching bikini-clad women and wondering if coverage would return.

Devonport fan Paul Cornish watched and waited for 20 minutes before calling Sky's helpline.

"But there's no one on at four in the morning, so what can you do?

"I'd gone to the kitchen to make a cup of tea, and when I came back - bang, it had gone."

Sky's director of sports, Kevin Cameron, said something had gone wrong, but he was reluctant to comment further.

"Obviously there was a problem and the UHF coverage finished before the end of the game. Why that happened I don't know.

"We're pretty concerned about it, but there's nothing I can say until we find out exactly what that problem was."

A Sky customer service representative said staff received around 200 calls about the game and several recorded messages were left by customers overnight.

About 150 to 200 people at Albion Hotel in Hobson St took to the streets at 4am in search of a pub showing the game.

General manager Paul Hafford said they were "gutted" when coverage stopped.

"The channel switched to some swimwear show ... but no one stayed to watch it. I think Sky's lost a few brownie points."

He said the Albion had Sky Digital, but the duty manager did not know to switch to ESPN.

Sky spokesman Tony O'Brien said about 14 per cent of Sky's customers were UHF subscribers. The rest had Sky Digital.

Arsenal eventually won the penalty shootout 5-4.