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Dowden: Premier League could go FTA on return

Culture secretary Oliver Dowden

The English Premier League could be broadcast on free-to-air TV if and when it resumes the 2019/20 season.

Speaking at a meeting of the DCMS committee on Wednesday, UK culture secretary Oliver Dowden said that “productive talks” were being had with sports bodies from across the country and admitted that the Premier League will likely resume behind closed doors.

With fanless matches, Dowden said that access will be key. He said: “I have said to the Premier League it wouldn’t send the best signal if they were one of the first major sports to resume behind closed doors and the public at large couldn’t have access to it.”

Dowden acknowledged that the league is “reliant on the revenue” it receives from its domestic broadcast deals with BT and Sky Sports but said that there are “elements of protecting revenue from broadcasting but also looking at ways of increasing access.”

The Premier League, which has suspended all matches indefinitely, has said that it is considering the move. Sky and BT are yet to comment.

In spite of these comments indicating that football could resume in current months, some commenters are skeptical.

Speaking to Sky Sports, ex-player and now pundit Gary Neville said that he previously thought “that football would continue and we could get behind closed doors football” but now he is “very very doubtful” given the social distancing measures that will have to be enforced for the foreseeable future.