Premier League & Broadcasters Face Fresh Criticism as Pubs Exempt From PPV Pricing

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The Premier League and broadcasters are under pressure to reverse their decision | ALEX PANTLING/Getty Images

Pubs and clubs will be exempt from the Premier League's PPV pricing scheme, piling further pressure on the league and broadcasters to scrap the system put in place to monetise selected matches.

In the early stages of 2020/21, England's top division has continued where it left off during Project Restart in supplementing its normal broadcasting schedule by making all of its matches available to air. Sky Sports and BT Sport have had the majority of games, but some were distributed to Prime Video and the BBC, with a number made available for free.

Staggered kick-off times have given fans a welcome reprieve from reality at a time when partial lockdown restrictions remain in place up and down the country, while many have not yet returned to work full-time. For October and November, however, the Premier League announced a halt to those plans - their normal broadcast schedule would remain in place, but to watch matches not already selected, fans will have to pay an additional fee of £14.95 per game.

Clubs voted overwhelmingly in favour of that PPV pricing scheme, with 19 of 20 feeling it was necessary to monetise those matches while fans are prevented from providing clubs with matchday revenue. Many, however, feel it is an unnecessary cash-grab from broadcasters, who will already profit from increased advertising revenue by airing the extra matches.

Those criticisms have been compounded, as the Telegraph note that pubs and clubs will be exempt from the PPV pricing. Professor Gabriel Scally, of SAGE, the government's scientific advisory group, says that will encourage fans to gather in pubs rather than remain at home - something which carries obvious risks in the middle of a pandemic.

Scally said: “It would be a very bad substitute to have fans gathering indoors. It does certainly appear to be a situation that would encourage fans to put themselves potentially at risk.

"We do know that a significant proportion of transmission is associated with the hospitality industry and pubs in particular.”

Scotland's central belt was recently ordered to close all pubs and restaurants for 16 days, and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon commented that she expects the rest of the UK to follow suit in the foreseeable future. Were England, Wales and Northern Ireland to be forced into similar restrictions, it remains to be seen if the Premier League would ease up on charging extra for matches.