PREMIER League clubs are ready to bow to public pressure by ditching their controversial £14.95 pay-per-view offering for individual games.
The model, introduced at the start of October, was aimed at fans locked out of stadiums due to the coronavirus pandemic but many baulked at the price.
Hundreds of thousands of pounds was instead donated to food banks by angry supporters and while a reported average of 39,000 have paid the fee, countless more resorted to illegal streams.
The unpopular charge will remain in place for five pay-per-view matches this weekend — including today’s game between Brighton and Burnley — but it is understood a different offering will be introduced in time for the top-flight’s resumption after the international break.
With a national lockdown in place until December 2, clubs are believed to be favouring returning to the coverage at the end of last season and in September, when all matches were all screened by one of Sky Sports, BT Sport, Amazon Prime or the BBC.
However, no final decision was taken at yesterday’s Premier League shareholders’ meeting as discussions with broadcasters are still to take place but BT Sport boss Marc Allera last month said the controversial price had been set by the clubs with the company merely covering its costs, while Sky Sports was reportedly concerned by the reputational damage it had caused.
The pay-per-view ‘interim option’ had been adopted by a 19-1 vote of clubs, Leicester the only opponents, but Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has since said the charge is ‘too high’ while the Football Supporters’ Association has been lobbying for the model to be changed. Spokesman Kevin Miles said: ‘Supporters made clear their revulsion at the £15 cost to see their teams on pay-per-view platforms last month, an emotion running so deep that fan protests across the country even reached the ears of untouchable Premier League club owners.
‘They simply must come up with a solution that is affordable for all.’
The Premier League said in a statement: ‘Discussions with all stakeholders are ongoing and a broadcast solution will be announced in due course.’
Game faces parliamentary scrutiny
FOOTBALL chiefs will face parliament next week to discuss why no agreement has been reached on a bailout for lower-tier clubs facing financial strain amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The EFL turned down £50million from the Premier League last month while digital culture media and sport committee chair Julian Knight said £1.2billion was spent in the recent transfer window.
‘It’s a very unedifying sight when you’ve seen other sports coming together to find a way through this crisis,’ he said. ‘You never know, they could be now on the cusp of putting a deal together and we can explore that in the committee.’