[ENT] Fan fury could force U-turn on £14.95 pay-per-view price for non-televised matches

The Premier League will come under fresh pressure to make a U-turn on their £14.95 pay-per-view price for non-televised matches this week with another shareholders’ meeting planned.

The bailout of the English Football League and distribution of any PPV revenue is expected to be discussed but the public-relations backlash over the price of watching Premier League games which are not among the televised picks is likely to force the clubs to reconsider the issue, even though it was finalised on Friday.

Only Leicester City’s Susan Whelan voted against the proposal at Friday’s meeting, though Manchester United’s Ed Woodward is understood to have argued that a facility to accommodate season-ticket holders should be provided. 

Sportsmail understands that the discussion went around the room, with clubs being asked to vote in alphabetical order, meaning that Leicester registered their opposition even though there was almost no chance of carrying the vote their way by that point.

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Sky Sports and BT Sport have announced a pay-per-view service for Premier League matches that are not part of their usual coverage schedules 

The Premier League point out that their product, which will be provided by Sky and BT, will be considerably superior to the EFL’s iFollow stream, which costs £10 a match. However, football finance expert Kieran Maguire, author of The Price of Football, speaking on the BBC, said: ‘It is going to drive people towards piracy.

‘It discriminates against the clubs that don’t tend to be on Sky Sports or BT that often. The Premier League’s argument, which is that EFL clubs are charging £10 so we should be charging more because we have more cameras, is also flawed. The cameras were already going to be there because the matches would have been shown on Match of the Day anyway, so the set-up costs would be minimal.’

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All Premier League games have initially been shown on either Sky, BT, Amazon or the BBC as a stop-gap solution, but the Premier League received no extra fee. Clubs were working on the assumption that some fans would return in October but with no prospect of that, which costs £100m a month, and having had to pay rebates to broadcasters last season, the clubs are arguing that they can’t afford to continue to give away the product for free.

A number of Premier League games were shown free-to-air in lockdown but the league has grown agitated at giving away its product for free in the UK

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A number of Premier League games were shown free-to-air in lockdown but the league has grown agitated at giving away its product for free in the UK

Many fans’ group sympathise on the latter point but it is the price that is problematic, as well as the fact that at some clubs, fans have paid for season tickets and now have to pay again to stream games they can’t attend.

Brighton chief executive Paul Barber said: ‘The PPV offering also potentially provides all fans with access to away fixtures that they might not have got to see even in normal times. This is a short-term measure, let’s not forget that. Our priority is to get fans back in the stadium as soon as possible.

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‘I don’t know of any businesses that are expected to give away their core product for free, and least of all when jobs and livelihoods are threatened everywhere. We are trying to be fair to fans, while also protecting our business, and the jobs of our staff, as we work through an unprecedented crisis.’

Fans who remain locked out of grounds amid the Covid-19 pandemic are angry they now have to pay more to watch their team on TV

Fans who remain locked out of grounds amid the Covid-19 pandemic are angry they now have to pay more to watch their team on TV

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Answering questions on the club’s website, he said there wasn’t time to offer a free pass to season-ticket holders. ‘Clubs don’t have the infrastructure to do this and the costs would likely ramp up the price even higher,’ he said.

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‘As for the question on only making PPV games available to season-ticket holders through a voucher, we understand it isn’t technically possible.

‘For example, how do you put your season-ticket number into a set-top box? The timescale to achieve this would also have been very short, the administrative costs would have been high, multiple season-ticket households would have potentially been out of pocket, and we actually felt it was important to give fans the choice to watch the games as soon as possible rather than focus on a technical solution that we may not need for long.’

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