LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 31, 2020: Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and West Ham United FC at Anfield. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. (Pic by Propaganda)

Premier League to scrap pay-per-view scheme as fan backlash forces U-turn

The Premier League is set to scrap its controversial pay-per-view scheme, with every behind-closed-doors game now set to be included in usual TV subscription packages.

Prior to the decision to introduce a pay-per-view plan for all games not selected by Sky Sports and BT Sport, every Premier League fixture during lockdown was shared between broadcasters.

With fans unable to attend games, it was a common-sense solution to ensure those wishing to watch their side would still be given the opportunity to, and the setup was hugely popular.

However, towards the start of October it was announced that those not usually broadcast would be made available on a pay-per-view basis, with the price point at £14.95 a game.

Unsurprisingly this did not go down well, and fans instead boycotted games in their thousands, with many instead donating the fee proposed to local foodbanks.

For example, Liverpool’s 2-1 victory over Sheffield United last month saw almost £130,000 raised for Fans Supporting Foodbanks, with 8,407 doners shattering the initial £10,000 goal.

The Premier League are now set to relent on their plans to maintain the pay-per-view model, after suggestions they could simply lower the price, with it widely reported that it will be scrapped.

Matchday, Liverpool lineup pre-match at Anfield. TV camera. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Martyn Ziegler of the Times reports that while a formal announcement is not expected until next week, with broadcasters required to agree to terms, no games are expected to be used for pay-per-view from after the international break.

This will last until at least the end of the year, with it “unlikely” the scheme will be revived in the new year, even for a reduced fee.

“Club chiefs had been taken aback by the storm of criticism by fans,” Ziegler reports, though it was hardly a shock to see the pay-per-view model receive a vociferous response given the huge financial blow the public has taken in the pandemic.

Though a final decision is yet to be made, this is hugely encouraging and, while their own subscription fees can be seen as exorbitant, all games will now be available on Sky Sports, BT Sport and Amazon Prime.

This means that Liverpool’s home clash with Leicester after the international break – which is currently scheduled as a 3pm kickoff on Saturday, November 21 – will certainly be on TV.