Premier League clubs to suggest reducing pay-per-view fee to £10 to calm angry fans

Tom Morgan
·4 min read
 A camera operator looks on during the Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Burnley  - GETTY
A camera operator looks on during the Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Burnley - GETTY

Premier League executives will call for pay-per-view match broadcasts to be reduced to below £10 in a bid to ease the storm of fan anger since the scheme was introduced.

England's top tier is under mounting pressure to rethink its current deal, with Mike Ashley, the Newcastle United owner, becoming the first club executive to admit charging £14.95 "in the current climate it is not acceptable to any football fan".

Ashley called for a "much more accessible" price of "£4.95 per match until Christmas", but Telegraph Sport understands other clubs are instead lobbying for an initial £5 reduction from the middle of next month.

Clubs meeting on Tuesday morning at a shareholders' meeting were expecting the league to wave through the £14.95 benchmark until the international break. They are then likely to move next week to push through a price drop to begin in the middle of November. A £5 reduction on the scheme announced just over two weeks ago would bring matches in line with the English Football League's iFollow price bracket.

On Monday night Ashley, the Sports Direct billionaire who failed this summer in an attempt to sell Newcastle to Saudi Arabia, said the league should go even further, and then share profits with the cash-strapped English Football League.

"Charging £14.95 for single televised matches in the current climate is not acceptable to any football fan," he added. "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?"

Two other Premier League clubs are understood to be lobbying for a reduction after fans staged protests and Oliver Dowden, the Culture Secretary, expressed misgivings. Ashley’s surprise intervention included asking the Government to waive VAT on PPV “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 per cent would be retained by Premier League and 50 per cent would go to the football pyramid below," he added.  "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."

The world's richest league confirmed more than two weeks ago that half of games for the rest of this month and start of next would be sold individually to viewers on Sky Sports and BT Sport's Box Office in an attempt to claw back some of the millions of pounds a week its clubs are losing from playing behind closed doors. Only Leicester City voted against the initiative earlier this month, through their chief executive, Susan Whelan. Ed Woodward, the Manchester United executive vice-chairman, failed to join her despite arguing it placed an unfair burden on supporters.

Sky and BT Sport are understood to be open to the prospect of reducing PPV prices or abandoning them altogether if that is what the clubs decide.

Outraged fans of Newcastle, Leeds, Arsenal, Liverpool and Burnley have all raised cash for various local causes instead of paying the current £14.95 price tag.

Mr Dowden told MPs earlier this month that he was “not massively impressed” by the plan to sell off matches not selected for regular television coverage. “Actions like this jar with this idea of coming together during this time of crisis,” he said.

Brexit is also on the agenda at a shareholders' meeting from 11am, with clubs expected to finally make a decision over homegrown player quotas following a four year tug-of-war over numbers with the Football Association. Also on the agenda is the current rescue package offer to the English Football League.  

Negotiations are back at square one after the EFL clubs voted against accepting the Premier League's £50m loans and grant package because it only applied to Leagues One and Two.

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