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Premier League scraps unpopular pay-per-view experiment

Premier League File Photo
(Image credit: Alex Pantling)

The Premier League has scrapped its controversial pay-per-view experiment and made all matches from November 21 and throughout the festive period available live via one of their regular UK broadcast partners.

The league announced the changes to its broadcast plans on Friday evening.

Under the new arrangement, the BBC confirmed it will screen the match between Fulham and Everton on November 22, bringing the league back to free-to-air viewers again as happened during Project Restart over the summer and when the current season began in September.

The matches will be split between broadcast partners Sky Sports, BT Sport, the BBC and Amazon.

A Premier League statement read: “There is a full schedule of Premier League games over the festive period and clubs are committed to an accessible solution for fans.

“These plans have been made with the co-operation of our broadcast partners, working with us to deliver these additional matches while stadiums are missing the supporters who are such an integral part of the game.

“The agreement will be reviewed in the new year following consultation with clubs, broadcast partners and in line with any decisions made by Government regarding the return of spectators to stadiums.

“The Premier League and our clubs remain committed to the safe return of fans as soon as possible.”

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters defended the £14.95 pricing last month

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters defended the £14.95 pricing last month (Mike Egerton/PA)

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.

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.

Masters said during an appearance in front of MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee earlier this week that a “change of direction” was coming on PPV.

The pay-per-view model came in at a time when the October 1 return of fans had been indefinitely delayed but when the English professional game continued to lobby Government to allow them back in.

The country faces different circumstances now, with England under lockdown restrictions until at least December 2.

Oliver Dowden, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, described Friday’s announcement as “welcome news for fans”.

He added on Twitter: “Good news whilst we work to get fans back in stadia safely this winter.”

The decision moves the league back to the arrangement which was in place at the start of the 2020-21 season back in September.

It means a number of matches are subject to new kick-off dates and times.

The Football Supporters Association, which urged the league to reconsider the pay-per-view pricing model, has been approached for comment.