The Premier League have been urged to scrap the controversial pay-per-view model for fixtures amid the impending second nationwide UK lockdown.
The scheme saw fixtures that were not picked up by the broadcasters schedule made available to supporters for a fee of £14.95, a decision which sparked outrage amongst supporters and received an angry backlash.
Calls for a reduction in the price have been discussed, though the positive viewing figures – an average of 39,000-per-match – led to a decision that the current format would remain until after the international break at least.
However, as the UK prepares to be plunged into a second nationwide lockdown Tom Greatrex, the vice-chair of the Football Supporters’ Association, has called for the model to be scrapped in favour of returning greater accessibility to supporters.
“Given the situation we’re going into now is most similar – albeit with colder weather – to the situation we were in [back] in June, there is a strong case for following that same model and approach,” he told the Press Association.
“But we understand it is complicated by the position of the broadcasting contracts.
“It’s not just about the clubs, it’s the broadcasters. Our message is not just to the Premier League – it’s to Sky, and BT Sport as well, that they need to think very carefully about the context we’re in and the impact on their brand and how far people will continue to be their customers in the future.
“I don’t think it’s overstating it to say that people will think about that, and remember that, when we’re out the other end of this.”
Greatrex also discussed the PR disaster of the Premier League’s introduction of pay-per-view fixtures, and believes the division could have ‘avoided this whole mess’ by communicating with supporter organisations.
“They should have talked to supporter organisations, which could have avoided this whole mess,” he said.
“The second thing is that contextual point – at the time they made this decision we were towards the end of the situation, (so they felt they) could behave as they have habitually behaved over many years, and though a few people might grumble it wouldn’t make much difference.
“That proposition has been pretty thoroughly debunked by the reaction.”