Mega rich Premier League clubs are facing a huge backlash after announcing plans to charge fans £14.95 EXTRA to watch games.
That comes on top of existing subscriptions to Sky Sports and BT Sport after a hastily-arranged Premier League meeting on Friday to try and thrash out a new TV deal.
It is understood it was voted through 19-1 with only Leicester City against it while Premier League clubs have yet to decide on how the cash stream from the pay-per-view will be distributed.
Armchair viewers, who already pay up to £200-a-month, will still be able to watch five live games each weekend – but will have to fork out more to watch their team when they are not picked for live coverage.
It means Manchester United fans will now have to pay £14.95 to watch their game at Newcastle next weekend as the new package kicks in straight away.
Leicester v Aston Villa and also West Brom v Burnley are among the other games that will be shown on a pay-per-view basis with Sky Sports Box Office showing at least three games each weekend.
It is understood that despite some heavyweight clubs backing the plan, Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward spoke up forcefully against it but it was still pushed through.
BT Sport Box Office will also be charging £14.95 but the money will go to the clubs rather than the TV companies – even though the broadcasters are facing angry complaints from viewers who had been able to watch every game with fans locked out of stadiums.
Premier League clubs insist they lost £700m last season because of the coronavirus pandemic, they are losing £100m and this is a way of clawing back money on lost gate revenue.
But even Sky’s best known pundit Gary Neville, co-owner of EFL club Salford City, could not resist piling in – even though his channel are part of the new TV set-up.
Neville tweeted: “This is a really bad move by the Premier League to charge £14.95 for single matches that have been shown free for six months!”
Arsenal fan Darren Epstein said: “It’s disgraceful and so short sighted by the clubs.
“I have a season ticket, subscribe to BT Sport and Sky Sports, plus you have the cost of travelling home and away – and now we are met with yet another extra cost. It’s a step too far and ultimately will push fans away.”
Sky Sports Managing Director Rob Webster said: “The Premier League has come to this decision with its clubs to provide a service for supporters who are no longer to able attend and to generate matchday revenue.
“We are happy to support them with this interim solution – and we share their desire to get fans back into grounds as soon as it is safe to do so.”
The Football Supporters’ Association added: “We'd urge BT Sport and Sky Sports to reconsider their pricing for these games.”
The Premier League insisted it was only a temporary fix and could be reviewed as they became aware of the intense fan backlash against the plan.
They also urged the Government to reconsider stopping fans from attending games and the clubs must hope this latest TV plan may persuade them to think again.
The statement said: “Football is not the same without supporters at matches. The Premier League and our clubs remain committed to the safe return of fans as soon as possible.”
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