The Premier League’s short-term pay-per-view plan could cause long-term damage to the game and even jeopardise the public’s health, the Football Supporters’ Association has warned.
The league announced on Friday that all matches not already earmarked for live coverage would be available on the box office services of Sky Sports or BT Sport.
But the £14.95 price has come in for criticism from fans and pundits, including Gary Neville, who said it was a “really bad move” by the Premier League.
This is a really bad move by the @premierleague to charge £14.95 for single matches that have been shown free for 6 months !
— Gary Neville (@GNev2) October 9, 2020
Tom Greatrex, the vice-chair of the FSA, says the price should be slashed or else some people will try to find illegal ways to watch the matches.
He also fears fans may split the cost and gather together to watch games, potentially going against coronavirus restrictions – the knock-on effect of which could be an even longer period before supporters can return to stadiums.
“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,” Greatrex told the PA news Agency.
“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.
“I think it should be reviewed and given the reaction, which has been pretty consistent across the board, I think it would encourage them to think again quickly and not wait until the end of October.
“This is not a sustainable position for how ever long it is that we are not allowed back into grounds, which could be most if not all of this season.
“I would say between £5 and £10 would be reasonable. I think £10 is a tipping point between people who will pay it and people who will think of something else to do, or go to illegal streams, or crowd together and watch it, potentially having a detrimental affect on the public health situation.
“I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to suggest you could have, say, a group of Fulham supporters gathering together to watch their game at Sheffield United next week when that’s not what you’re supposed to do.
“If you are unintentionally increasing the risk of the spread of the virus then you’re making it a longer time before fans can get back into grounds – which at the start of the week is what the Premier League and other football authorities were pushing for. So it’s a self-defeating exercise.
“Between the start of the week and the end of the week the Premier League couldn’t have shown a greater disconnect between their understanding and the reality of where supporters’ perspectives are.”