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Premier League’s controversial pay-per-view model to be scrapped

Written by on 6 November 2020

The Premier League’s controversial pay-per-view model is likely to be scrapped after this weekend’s matches, Sky News understands.

It is understood the league is most likely to revert to the model which was in place at the start of the current season – where all matches were screened by one of the competition’s broadcast partners.

Further discussions must still take place with broadcast partners before plans can be confirmed, and pay-per-view is therefore not completely off the table.

The pay-per-view model was introduced for the games which followed the October international break, with fans needing to pay GBP14.95 to watch matches not selected for regular television broadcast in the UK.

The move drew immediate criticism from supporters who in many cases opted to give the money to charitable causes such as food banks instead.

Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville was one of those who criticised the move.

He tweeted: “This is a really bad move by the Premier League to charge GBP14.95 for single matches that have been shown free for 6 months!”

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Sky News understands any change would take effect from the round of matches on 21 November, with a review of arrangements set to take place in mid-January.

The Premier League’s chief executive Richard Masters said the GBP14.95 price was “defensible” last month, while BT also defended it, saying it was only covering its costs in screening the matches.

The pay-per-view model came in at a time when the return of fans had been indefinitely delayed but when the English professional game continued to lobby government to allow them back in.

The country faces different circumstances now, with a new national lockdown in place until at least 2 December.

The model Premier League clubs are understood to be edging towards would most closely resemble the arrangement which was in place when the 2020-21 season started in September.

All 28 matches in that month were shown live, with all broadcast partners – Sky Sports, BT Sport, the BBC and Amazon Prime – screening matches.

Of the 11 games that had not been selected for regular broadcast, six were shown on Sky, three on BT and one each on the BBC and Amazon.

If this model is adopted, it will represent a success for the Football Supporters’ Association, which had lobbied for the Premier League to reconsider owing to the changed circumstances in the country.

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The pay-per-view model was introduced for the games which followed the October international break

One Premier League club said on Wednesday that they supported the pay-per-view model, albeit with a reduced price of GBP10 per match.

The clubs also discussed an improved financial offer to the English Football League (EFL), with the top-flight competition set to issue a statement later.

EFL board member Steve Curwood said on Wednesday that he and his fellow directors would consider the new offer – which he said was a GBP30m emergency loan facility for Championship clubs – at a board meeting on Thursday.

That followed an initial GBP50m offer from the Premier League which the EFL rejected.

Mr Curwood said that even adding in the new money, it still “barely touched the sides” of what was needed.

EFL chairman Rick Parry has repeatedly stated that clubs need GBP250m to cover matchday revenue shortfalls from last season and this term.

It is understood clubs also received an update on talks between the Premier League and the Football Association on overseas player numbers post-Brexit.

They were told talks were progressing well, but no definite position has been reached.