The Premier League’s controversial pay-per-view model will be ditched after this weekend’s matches, Sportsmail understands.
It is understood the league is most likely to revert to the model which was in place at the start of the current season, where all matches were screened by their existing broadcast partners.
Further discussions must still take place with Sky, BT, the BBC and Amazon before plans can be confirmed, but the unpopular £14.95 pay-per-view format is set to end.
Selected Premier League matches have been available for £14.95 on a pay-per-view basis
The league’s 20 clubs, who held a virtual meeting today, have yielded to pressure from fan groups after a ferocious backlash to the scheme, which began on October 17.
It is understood any change would take effect from the round of matches on November 21 – after the upcoming international break – with a review of arrangements set to take place in mid-January.
This weekend’s PPV games will remain on the Sky and BT Box Office platforms to honour purchases already made by fans.
It remains to be decided how the games that would have been shown on PPV will now be broadcast.
Sky and BT Sport are both unhappy with having to show extra games at no additional charge – but a move back to the ‘Project Restart’ plan of showing games on their channels, with some on the BBC and Amazon, is most likely until Christmas at least.
The PPV initiative was designed to give supporters, unable to attend stadiums because of the coronavirus pandemic, access to matches that had not been included in broadcast packages.
But the clubs, who originally endorsed the scheme 19 votes to one with Leicester the only objectors, came to regard it as an embarrassment after fans railed against it having forked out for season tickets and TV subscriptions on top of the PPV charge.
Pressure has mounted on the Premier League to make matches affordable during lockdown
One club source described the scheme as a ‘PR disaster’ before today’s meeting.
The £14.95 price was seen as greedy by fans, who have raised more than £300,000 pounds for local food banks by giving their money to charity, rather than pay for games via BT Sport or Sky Box Office.
That public charity campaign has had high profile endorsement with Gary Neville, the Sky Sports pundit, claming the system ‘just needs scrapping’.
Speaking on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football, Neville added: ‘It’s finished, no-one is paying for it, no-one is watching it, it’s done.’
Both BT Sport and Sky Sports are not keen on showing more matches for no extra charge
One option under consideration was to bring the cost of Premier League games in line with the EFL’s iFollow charge to watch games in the Championship, League One and League Two.
Among other options the Premier League was due to consider were prpoposals to slash the price to by half to £7.50, demand no extra charge for additional games to be provided free-to-air.
However, the model the Premier League clubs are understood to be edging towards would most closely resemble the arrangement which was in place when the 2020-21 season started in September.
All 28 matches in that month were shown live, with all broadcast partners – Sky Sports, BT Sport, the BBC and Amazon Prime – screening matches.
An average of 39,000 fans have watched each game, slightly above the scheme’s target
Of the 11 games that had not been selected for regular broadcast, six were shown on Sky, three on BT and one each on the BBC and Amazon.
Following today’s meeting, the Premier League has to persuade its broadcast partners to screen the games that are not within the existing packages and to do so at no extra charge.
Kevin Miles, a spokesman for the Football Supporters’ Association believes that is the critical issue. He said: It remains our concern that particularly at times of lockdown, fans need to be able to watch the games. All matches being televise in an accessible way is the minimum. They need to be accessible and affordable.’
Premier League will have to negotiate with broadcast partners about how to screen matches
However, he was pleased the message from fans over the £14.95 PPV charge has got through.
‘The response of fans in opposition has been so deafening it has reached even the inner sanctum of Premier League clubs’ decision making,’ he added. ‘We are delighted they have finally realised that was never a viable proposition.’
Nowhere were fans more outraged by the £14.95 charge than in Liverpool. Supporters raised more than £120,000 for North Liverpool food bank after their team’s 2-1 victory against Sheffield United
Leeds fans donated £57,000 instead of paying to watch their side win 3-0 at Aston Villa. The Leeds United Supporters’ Trust called the £14.95 charge ‘excessive’ with fans already having subscriptions to sport channels and many still paying for a season ticket.