The English Premier League has announced an extension of its blanket broadcast rules that will see all matches continue to be available for broadcast through to the end of October, but with the controversial addition of pay-per-view for the first time in the league’s history.
With fans not able to be in grounds for the start of the season, the EPL made all matches in September available to viewers across Sky Sports, BT Sport, Amazon Prime and the BBC.
Hopes of reverting back to something approaching normality were squashed when the government announced further restrictions and delays to trials which would allow fans to be back in grounds.
In response, the EPL has announced ‘interim’ measures to continue broadcasting all matches, but peeling back the amount of coverage on traditional TV.
Five games per match day (games which typically would not have been broadcast) will be shifted to PPV, via Sky Sports Box Office and BT Sport Box Office, with interested viewers expected to pay £14.95 per match. The league has clarified that, beyond production, all money generated from the PPV sales will go back into the pocket of the clubs which are facing a shortfall of £100 million for every month without fans.
The move has been met with significant backlash from fans and pundits, many of whom are accusing the league of greed amid an economic crisis and a healthcare pandemic.
For example, Alex Hurst, the chair of Newcastle United’s Supporters Trust said: “The idea that Premier League clubs need to implement PPV because of economic needs would carry more weight if they hadn’t just spent £1 billion on players, furloughed staff, received government loans, weren’t charging fans for games they aren’t going to and hadn’t just made thousands of staff redundant.”
Shortly after this announcement was made, reports emerged that a proposal dubbed Project Big Picture had been proposed by Liverpool and Manchester United. The proposal would see the country’s biggest clubs given greater power over decision making, a reduced league size, and more funding provided from the EPL to the English Football League.
EFL chairman Rick Parry, has called it “a great idea”, but the EPL itself has condemned the idea. A statement from the EPL said that the proposals put forward by the plan “could have a damaging impact on the whole game.”
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