Premier League clubs ‘expected’ to demand disastrous £14.95 pay-per-view is AXED – as pressure mounts for more games to be shown on free-to-air TV during government’s new lockdown
- Clubs will table a motion to scrap pay-per-view at the next meeting of the Premier League’s shareholders later this week
- MPs demand more games must be free-to-air during the national lockdown
- Football Supporters’ Association insists on fair price for fans in new scheme
- In the current pay-per-view experiment each match generates £500,000
The Premier League is under pressure to scrap pay-per-view games and make more matches free-to-air following the government’s new lockdown measures.
The controversial scheme in which fans are asked to pay £14.95 to watch matches that have not been picked up by broadcasters as part of existing packages has been a PR disaster for the Premier League and clubs.
A ferocious backlash from fans and criticism from politicians led club chairmen to consider a £5 reduction in the cost of games at the Premier League’s shareholders’ meeting last week.
BT Sport screened the match between Burnley and Chelsea for £14.95 on pay-per-view
The Premier League’s pay-per-view plan averaged fewer than 40,000 viewers per match
However, since viewing figures were better than expected, averaging 39,000 per match, and slightly above the league’s target, it was decided that the £14.95 benchmark would continue until the international break.
But in light of the nationwide lockdown to reduce the rapid spread of coronavirus, clubs are changing their tune and now a motion to scrap the scheme altogether is expected to be tabled when the clubs meet again on Thursday, The Telegraph reports.
Officials have told the paper that clubs are desperate to avoid further PR damage over selling off matches on BT and Sky Sports box office channels.
It comes as the prospect of a fans returning to stadiums to watch their teams receded after Boris Johnson announced tough new measures to reduce the rapid spread of coronavirus on Saturday.
Both BT Sport and Sky Sports have seen dwindling figures arriving to purchase the matches
Kevin Miles of the Football Supporters’ Association wants matches to be affordable for fans
Some clubs do not anticipate fans will return until March, at the earliest, and the Premier League is believed to be meeting with fan groups ahead of Thursday’s meeting to find out what may be acceptable to them.
‘Pay-per-view was all about the Premier League understanding that they had the fans over a barrel and they knew they would pay the additional amount of money,’ MP Ian Mearns, chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Football Supporters told Sportsmail.
‘I don’t see why we cannot have more free-to-air games now we are in a national lockdown then anyone can watch them. People in dire financial straits can actually watch these games if the club they love is participating.’
The Football Supporters’ Association also believes the national lockdown changes the debate over the screening of football matches.
‘We need to make sure matches are on the telly but that cannot be a money-making scheme,’ Kevin Miles, spokesman for the Football Supporters’ Association, told Sportsmail. ‘It has to be a way of making sure fans who have been loyal are treated with respect and can watch their teams play without feeling exploited.’
MPs want to see more free-to-air Premier League matches available during national lockdown
Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has proposed reducing the cost of pay-per-view games to £4.95
As reported by Sportsmail on Monday, Aston Villa’s Christian Purslow and West Ham’s Karren Brady led the inquest into the pay-per-view system at the last Premier League shareholders’ meeting.
Newcastle United, Leicester City and West Ham United were reported to have called for an immediate cut in price, but the idea did not gain sufficient support.
The most radical proposal has come from Mike Ashley, the Newcastle owner, who has said £14.95 ‘in the current climate it is not acceptable to any football fan’. He demanded a ‘much more accessible’ price of ‘£4.95 per match until Christmas’.
The pay-per-view experiment is currently generating £500,000 per game.