It’s been raining goals in the Premier League so far this season, but after 47 games the run finally came to an end – in a match selected to be one of the first pay-per-view fixtures.
With matches still being played behind closed doors, fans have to pay extra to watch top-flight games not selected for TV coverage. On Monday, they included the first nil-nil draw of the season.
Kicking off in the early 5.30pm slot and costing £14.95 to watch live on Sky Sports, West Brom’s gritty stalemate with Burnley at The Hawthorns was not exactly box office viewing.
Speaking after the match West Brom manager Slaven Bilic voiced his concerns that the new pay-per-view fixtures are “pricing fans out of football”, BBC Sport reports.
He said: “Football is not polo or golf. It’s not my money; it’s their money. Football should not be free, but affordable. Football is the sport for masses, a working-class sport, and it should be affordable to everybody.”
‘Charity Not PPV’
It was announced earlier this month that five matches per round – 15 games in total – will be made available to supporters via the BT Sport Box Office and Sky Sports Box Office platforms.
However, many fans have been put off by the £14.95 price tag. The Daily Mail reports that the Premier League is under “increasing pressure” to abandon its controversial scheme.
Large numbers boycotted the first round of games and the supporters’ groups of Newcastle United and Manchester United revealed that many fans donated £14.95 to food banks instead of watching the two teams go head-to-head on Sunday on Sky Sports Box Office.
As part of a “Charity Not PPV” campaign, Newcastle fans raised more than £20,000 for the city’s West End food bank. The campaign has also been replicated by fans of other Premier League clubs, including Tottenham, Burnley, Aston Villa, Leeds United, Liverpool and Everton.
Alex Hurst, chairman of the Newcastle United Supporters’ Trust, told the Mail: “It is wrong for so many reasons. It is far too expensive. The fact it has come from nowhere suggests a total lack of planning from the Premier League, making short-term decisions for short-term gain. There has been no supporter consultation. It just doesn’t sit right.”
‘Out of touch with fans’
A petition to “Stop Pay Per View Football” has also been launched on change.org, with organisers saying it’s “unfair and unreasonable to expect fans to pay again”.
The Football Supporters’ Association (FSA) urged the league and broadcasters to “reconsider pricing” for these games and said the plan was “totally out of touch with fans”.
Tom Greatrex, vice-chair of the FSA, told the Press Association: “While the FSA has been actively campaigning for fans to be able to watch the matches when they can’t get into the grounds, the price point of £14.95 is too high and needs to be rethought.
“The chance to have a bigger pool of people to potentially go back when grounds can have people in again looks to me to have been squandered for a pretty short-term approach, taking the maximum they can get away with.”
Meanwhile, BT Sport and Sky Sports have both refused to publicly reveal their viewing number for the pay-per-view matches, the Daily Mirror reports. Sky said it would be “commercially sensitive” to release the figures.
Which Premier League games are on pay-per-view?
- Friday 23 October: Aston Villa vs. Leeds (8pm, BT Sport Box Office)
- Saturday 24 October: Fulham vs. Crystal Palace (3pm, BT Sport Box Office)
- Saturday 24 October: Liverpool vs. Sheffield United (8pm, Sky Sports Box Office)
- Sunday 25 October: Arsenal vs. Leicester (7.15pm, Sky Sports Box Office)
- Monday 26 October: Brighton vs. West Brom (5.30pm, Sky Sports Box Office)
- Friday 30 October: Wolves vs. Crystal Palace (8pm, BT Sport Box Office)
- Saturday 31 October: Burnley vs. Chelsea (3pm, BT Sport Box Office)
- Sunday 1 November: Aston Villa vs. Southampton (12pm, Sky Sports Box Office)
- Sunday 1 November: Tottenham vs. Brighton (12pm, Sky Sports Box Office)
- Monday 2 November: Fulham vs. West Brom (5.30pm, Sky Sports Box Office)