Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has urged the Premier League to urgently review their ‘unacceptable’ pay-per-view arrangements and called on fans to pay £ 4.95 for matches until Christmas.
Fifteen matches played after this month’s internationals were not selected for regular TV broadcast and had to be purchased a la carte through Sky Sports or BT Sport ticketing services at £ 14.95 each.
Fan groups including the Football Supporters’ Association have urged the league and broadcaster to reconsider the prices.
Many supporters have chosen to donate money to food banks and other charities instead of paying the fees.
Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said earlier this month the price was ‘defensible’, while BT Sport said it was simply covering its costs of showing those games.
But top clubs will be under pressure to review pricing, with a decision due on Tuesday on broadcast arrangements to be put in place for matches played between November 6 and 8.
And Ashley has now called for games to become more accessible for fans – especially given the financial damage done to many during the coronavirus pandemic.
“I call on the Premier League to act immediately and review their current pay-per-view arrangements for live matches in the UK,” he said in a statement from Newcastle. “In today’s climate, charging £ 14.95 for a single televised match is not acceptable to any football fan.
“The supporters overwhelmingly rejected this offer and the Premier League must now act.
“Why not make it a lot more accessible at £ 4.95 per game until Christmas?”
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“The government should waive VAT on the above pay-per-view matches so that as many people as possible who cannot attend matches in person can at least watch their squad.
“Profiting from the discounted pay-per-view option above, I suggest that 50% would be withheld by the Premier League and 50% to go to the football pyramid below.
“As a club, Newcastle United voted in favor of the pay-per-view proposal, but to be clear it was because there was no realistic or viable alternative for fans to watch the games.”