The Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust (THST) have reacted to the news that Premier League football fans will soon have to dig deep into their pockets to watch their side in action.
It was announced yesterday that Premier League games not selected for live television broadcast in the UK during October will be available to fans on a pay-per-view basis.
The five fixtures per round not already picked to be shown live, will be available on BT Sport Box Office or Sky Sports Box Office, priced at a hefty £14.95 per match.
Fans have been unable to attend Premier League games since football was halted on 13 March as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Spurs’ home fixture against Brighton at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday November first (19:15 GMT) will be screened live on Sky Sports Box Office at the above price point.
The THST have claimed that a better deal could have been achieved and echoed the Football Supporters’ Association’s plea for a re-think.
The statement on the THST website read: “Nothing is ever simple in football. After weeks of campaigning to ensure fans could watch their teams while access to stadiums is denied, we should have been celebrating the announcement that they can, and with it a great victory for fan power,” they said.
“But, once again, the Premier League, Clubs and Broadcasters have managed to turn what could have been a positive into a negative. Because, once again, they didn’t have a proper conversation with the fans.
“The announcement that games broadcast on TV outside the existing contract will be priced at £14.95 per view has prompted a huge backlash. We believe a better deal was not only desirable, but possible and we’re backing the Football Supporters’ Association’s call for a rethink.
“As some of our Board members have been working with the detail of broadcast deals for some time, we thought it was worth breaking things down and explaining the issues.
“It’s a positive thing that the clubs have finally recognised that fans need to be able to see their teams while stadiums are closed. This has happened because of sustained pressure from fans. Broadcasting all games means that, on two fronts, the situation is better than normal.
“First, ALL fans, not just season ticket holders or regular match-goers, are now able to watch their team legally when they play league games. Second, those fans who would normally pay for a ticket to attend the match in person are paying less than they would per game to watch their team.
“Of course, watching on TV is an inferior experience for regular match-going fans and there will be a variety of views on what price properly reflects that. But the statements above remain true.
“However, the price of £14.95 per game is too high and because it is too high, it could have damaging effects – not just on individual’s finances at a time when many are stretched. It will encourage use of illegal streams, therefore diverting money from the game. And it will encourage people to gather in households and pubs to watch games together.
“The current plan also penalises fans of those clubs less likely to be selected on the regular broadcast schedule. They will have to pay more to watch their team than fans of the so-called glamour clubs.
“A cheaper price point would not only have been fairer, it would have had more chance of expanding the audience and generating more income. And it would have shown that the Premier League is aware of the situation people outside its bubble are in.
“The devil, as always, is in the detail. We need to know whether or not existing customers of the broadcasters involved will have to pay the same as new ones. We need to know if fans who have already paid up front for all or part of their season ticket will be able to offset that against the pay-per-view deal. The situation at each club will be different, but these details matter.
“We also need to know where the money is going – to the clubs, or to the TV companies. We understand broadcasters incur costs by televising games. We also understand that, despite its regular boasting about its financial success, the Premier League is being hit financially by the current pandemic. Few businesses give their products away for free, and they are especially unlikely to do so when income has been severely affected.”
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