The Premier League are ‘considering’ making behind-closed-doors fixtures free to air when the season restarts, according to Culture secretary Oliver Dowden.
Football has been suspended in England since last month as the UK bids to combat the spread of the coronavirus, though talks have been held over a return for the sport should the government advise it is safe to do so.
Any return to Premier League action amidst the global pandemic will almost certainly see fixtures played behind-closed-doors, though talks have been underway to give fans access to games with the possibility of free to air fixtures being made available.
Speaking at a meeting of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport committee this week on how sport could be broadcasted, Dowden said: “It’s a very good point and I’ve raised exactly this challenge to the Premier League in the conversations I had with them.
“I have said to the Premier League in particular… I think it wouldn’t send the best signal if they were one of the first major sports to resume behind closed doors and the public at large couldn’t have access to it.
“I appreciate that sports are reliant on the revenue they derive [from subscriptions] so I don’t want to issue some blanket mandate on trying to change things round.
“But they are mindful and there are different ways you can protect revenue from broadcasting but also look at ways of increasing access.
“I have urged them to do that and that’s what they are considering.”
Dowden refused to be drawn on how the Premier League could be broadcast should the season be declared safe to resume, but confirmed negotiations have begun over free-to-air fixtures.
“They need to be mindful of access points but that doesn’t have to be just in the form of going onto traditional terrestrial channels or, indeed, showing all of the matches.
“There are all sorts of creative options and I think it’s something they should consider and they have said they are considering it.
“I’ll put it no more strongly than that.”