The Premier League’s controversial pay-per-view model is likely to be ditched after this weekend’s matches.
It is understood the league is most likely to revert to the model which was in place at the start of the current season, where all matches were screened by one of the competition’s broadcast partners. Further discussions must still take place with these partners before plans can be confirmed, and a pay-per-view structure is therefore not completely off the table.
The pay-per-view model was introduced for the games which followed the October international break, with fans needing to pay £14.95 to watch matches not selected for regular television broadcast in the UK. The move drew immediate criticism from supporters who in many cases opted to give the money to charitable causes such as food banks instead. It is understood any change would take effect from the round of matches on 21 November, with a review of arrangements set to take place in mid-January.
The Premier League’s chief executive Richard Masters said last month the £14.95 price was “defensible”, while BT also defended it, saying it was only covering its costs in screening the matches.
The current model came in at a time when the 1 October return of fans had been indefinitely delayed but when the English professional game continued to lobby the UK government to allow them back in to matches. The country faces different circumstances now, with a new national lockdown in place until at least 2 December.
The model Premier League clubs are thought to be edging towards would most closely resemble the arrangement which was in place when the 2020-21 season started in September.
All 28 matches in that month were shown live, with all broadcast partners – Sky Sports, BT Sport, the BBC and Amazon Prime Video – screening matches. Of the 11 games that had not been selected for regular broadcast, six were shown on Sky, three on BT and one each on the BBC and Amazon.
If this model is adopted, it will represent a success for the Football Supporters’ Association, which had lobbied for the Premier League to reconsider the model owing to the changed circumstances in the country. One Premier League club said on Wednesday that they supported the PPV model, albeit with a reduced price of £10 per match.
The clubs also discussed an improved financial offer to the EFL, with the top-flight competition set to issue a statement later. EFL board member Steve Curwood, the chief executive of League One side Fleetwood Town, said on Wednesday that he and his fellow members would consider the new offer – which he said was a £30m emergency loan facility for Championship clubs – at a board meeting on Thursday.
That followed an initial £50m offer from the Premier League, which the EFL rejected. Curwood said that even adding in the new money, it still “barely touched the sides” of what was needed.
The EFL’s chairman Rick Parry has repeatedly stated that clubs need £250m to cover matchday revenue shortfalls from last season and this campaign. It is understood clubs also received an update on talks between the Premier League and the FA on overseas player numbers post-Brexit. They were told talks were progressing well, but no definite position has been reached. The FA’s position had been to reduce the number of non-homegrown players in a squad from 17 to 13.