Mike Ashley demands Premier League reviews pay-per-view policy

The Newcastle United owner, Mike Ashley, has demanded that the Premier League review its pay-per-view policy.

The Premier League looks set to continue its controversial PPV arrangements for the round of games before the November international break, a policy which has been heavily criticised and led to a boycott from supporters.

It is understood clubs will receive an update on broadcast matters at a meeting on Tuesday and it is likely the current arrangements will remain in place for the matches on the weekend of 6-8 November. A decision on how to proceed in the longer term is not expected to come out of the meeting. Matches played after the October internationals that were not selected for regular TV broadcast were made available on a pay-per-view basis via Sky Sports’ or BT Sport’s box-office services at £14.95 each.

However, Ashley has demanded a change of direction. A statement on the club’s official website read: “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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Fans’ groups, including the Football Supporters’ Association, urged the league and the broadcasters to reconsider the pricing when it was announced this month. Many supporters have opted to donate money to food banks and other charitable causes instead of paying the fee.

The Premier League chief executive, Richard Masters, has said the price was “defensible” while BT Sport said it was simply covering its costs in screening these matches.

A spokesperson for the FSA said: “Our members have expressed the view that they want the ability to watch their teams legally while they remain locked out of games with the Covid-19 restrictions in place.

“However, by donating hundreds of thousands to local food banks instead of paying the £15 fee for pay-per-view over the past week, supporters have shown just how unpopular PPV is in its current format and pricing. It needs urgent reconsideration from the Premier League, clubs and broadcasters.”

Premier League clubs had hoped to welcome back some supporters to stadiums from 1 October, but the government has imposed an indefinite delay on those plans because of the rise in coronavirus cases nationwide.

The league has warned that English football will lose £100m for every month fans remain barred from grounds. The EFL said on Sunday that the government’s position was “frustrating and perplexing”, while indoor venues such as shopping centres and cinemas remain open to the public.

source: theguardian.com