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Opinion

Cutting Premier League Pay Per View to £10 would be just adding fuel to the fire

4 weeks ago
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The Premier League Pay Per View issue festers on.

The 20 Premier League clubs meeting on Tuesday (today) with the item on their agenda.

What to do next?

Neither the Premier League nor broadcasters BT Sport and Sky Sports have been willing to take ownership of the £14.95 charge for the PPV matches.

Everybody pointing the finger elsewhere, claiming innocence.

Monday night saw Mike Ashley put out a lame PR statement (see below) demanding the charge be cut to £4.95 per match, all a bit embarrassing seen as he and 18 other PL club owners voted for the £14.95 PPV price to be applies, only Leicester voting against. This lame attempted PR grab by Ashley was confirmed when his PR lackey Keith Bishop (also see below) turned up on Sky Sports (no surprise there) to explain why his boss was insisting this was the ‘right thing to do.’

So what is the ‘right thing’ for the Premier League and broadcasters to do?

This whole issue really just sums up the entire unhealthy problem of the Premier League’s relationship with broadcasters.

The top tier of English football dictated to by the broadcasters, who believe / know that they are in charge because of the amount of money they pay to choose and screen live Premier League matches.

The fans of course are never part of any decision making process, nor are they ever considered when any decisions are made.

In an ideal world, all of the intended PPV matches would become ‘free’ to air, via Sky, BT, Amazon and the BBC, as was the case after football restart in June and then in September when the 2020/21 season started.

However, for the people who run English football (the broadcasters) that is the very last thing they want to happen.

If all of the other PL matches are made available for live TV, especially at no extra cost, they know it devalues their product as it dilutes interest. Ten live TV matches shown in the UK every round of games instead of five.

The Government of course want it both ways, continuing to ban fans from Premier League stadiums but at the same time making it clear that they expect all games to be made available to watch on live TV as the alternative whilst empty grounds are the reality.

We would all love to know how the £14.95 charge was decided and who the mystery person / people/ organisation was, that supposedly forced it on everybody else who was around the decision making table.

It has been widely rumoured in the media that the Premier League Pay Per View is likely to be cut to £10 after today’s meeting of the 20 PL clubs (with no doubt broadcasters also in attendance).

However, if that was to be the new pricing point, then I think it would actually make matters even worse in terms of the fan backlash.

I think for many people it would just appear to be those in power still looking for the highest possible charge that they could get away with. I wouldn’t see the boycott of Premier League Pay Per View games changing much at all.

I believe instead that there has to be a far bigger shift in the pricing AND a clear message to come out in their statement when they do change the price, where they accept that they got it wrong. That their basis for the price (trying to generate as much money as possible) was the wrong approach and instead should have been a price that would look to cover any extra costs and maybe provide some extra revenue to go to clubs to help in a small way to offset having no fans inside stadiums.

For some the problem still wouldn’t go away but I think for most fans, if the Premier League Pay Per View cost was cut to a fiver, most Premier League supporters could live with that. Whilst somewhere in between a fiver and a tenner would be less sure territory, if say £6.99 or £7.99 per match was charged. Fans more divided on whether this was a fair compromise.

There should also be, as part of any new price / arrangement, some kind of acknowledgement of and concession to the fact that some clubs such as Fulham and West Brom are going to have far more PPV matches than those at the other end of the spectrum. As things stand, all six of both clubs’ matches in October and November are only going to be available via PPV.

Keith Bishop talking to Sky Sports:

“After a terrible time with Covid, people losing their livelihoods and their jobs…

“And a lot of people see football as a light relief.

“And I know Mike [Ashley] wants to make football more affordable for them.

“For sure he’s going to hope for full support on this.

“It is the right thing to do.

“To make football more affordable for the people at this particular time.

“And I’m sure he will be wanting full support for it.”

Mike Ashley official statement released via Newcastle United – 26 October 2020:

Newcastle United owner, Mike Ashley, has issued the following statement in relation to the Premier League’s current pay-per-view arrangements:

“I am calling on the Premier League to immediately act and review its current pay-per-view arrangements for live matches in the UK.

“Charging £14.95 for single televised matches in the current climate it is not acceptable to any football fan.

“Supporters have overwhelmingly rejected this offer and the Premier League must now act.

“Why not make it much more accessible at £4.95 per match until Christmas?

“The Government should waive VAT on the above pay-per-view matches so that as many of those who are unable to attend matches in person can at least watch their team.

“The profit from the above reduced-price pay-per-view option, I would suggest that 50% would be retained by Premier League and 50% would go to the football pyramid below.

“As a club, Newcastle United did vote in favour of the pay-per-view proposal, but to be clear, this was because there were no realistic or any viable alternatives put forward to enable supporters to watch matches.”

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