Newcastle's Ashley implores Premier League to reconsider PPV
English soccer's top-tier Premier League is under pressure to alter its pay-per-view domestic broadcasting policy, which presently requires fans to pay £14.95 ($19.40) for specific matches not available elsewhere.
Mike Ashley, the owner of Premier League club Newcastle United, originally voted in favour of that arrangement, but has said: “Charging £14.95 for single televised matches in the current climate (is) not acceptable to any football fan.
“I am calling on the Premier League to immediately act and review its current pay-per-view arrangements for live matches in the UK… Why not make it much more accessible at £4.95 per match until Christmas?”
Under the scheme, the five games per match day (currently until the end of October) that are not already covered by pay-TV rights-holders Sky and BT Sport, are available to supporters to purchase from the Sky Sports Box Office and BT Sport Box Office platforms.
According to reports, the clubs wee set to extend the PPV arrangement at a meeting today through the weekend of 6-8 November, the last set of games before an international break that would seem a natural point to potentially stop the scheme.
It has been reported that one option being considered for after the break is to reduce the price of a single game to £9.95, but that a final decision on games after the November internationals will not be made for another two weeks.The 20 Premier League clubs voted 19-1 in favour of the PPV proposals at the start of October, with Leicester City being the only club to vote against. When it made the announcement, the Premier League called it “an interim decision to enable all fans to continue to watch their teams live.”
The first PPV Premier League game featured Newcastle, as they took on Manchester United on 17 October.
No fans have been allowed into Premier League stadiums so far during the 2020-21 campaign, with the coronavirus pandemic still ongoing in the UK, and that situation looks unlikely to change until spring at the earliest.
The government last month went back on its original plan to allow some fans back into grounds from 1 October.
Revenue generated from PPV sales is not going to Sky or BT, instead being split among the 20 Premier League clubs to help compensate for the lack of gate receipts so far this season, with fans shut out.
In an official Newcastle statement, Ashley said: “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. (For) the profit from the PPV option, I would suggest that 50 per cent by retained by the Premier League, and 50 per cent go to the football pyramid below.”
Many sets of supporters, including Newcastle fans, have chosen not to take up the offer of paying £14.95 to watch their team via PPV, and have instead donated that sum to charity en masse instead.
Earlier this week, the Daily Mirror newspaper reported that both Sky and BT would support scrapping the PPV games following the backlash, with concern rising about the damage it is doing to their reputations, and the fact they are not gaining financially.
A Sky source told the Mirror: “It is damaging the reputation of Sky Sports to be linked to this scheme - and that feeling is shared at BT. Everyone here would prefer for it to stop.”
Every match during the first four match days of the current season (which started in mid-September) was made available to watch through subscription only on Sky, BT and Amazon, the league’s other rights-holder of live domestic fixtures.
However, all parties were reluctant to continue to give matches away for no added cost, fearing it would devalue rights in future negotiations.