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Premier League Debate On Producing Broadcast Revenue

E
nglish Premier League clubs are considering whether they will allow season-ticket holders to watch non-televised matches, after the UK government decided not to allow fans back into stadiums in October due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Premier League expressed disappointment that the UK government postponed plans for the partial return of fans to stadiums on October 1 because of a recent spike in COVID-19 cases across the country.

Clubs are reportedly hoping to avoid the expense of having to reimburse season-ticket holders in the current stretched economic climate.

Premier League clubs are reportedly reluctant to continue last season’s ‘Project Restart’ initiative, which was going to see all 92 remaining matches broadcast to a wider audience on free-to-air television.

The English Football League (EFL) struck a deal with domestic broadcast partner, Sky Sports, which allows clubs to air non-televised matches on their own digital platforms.

However, the viewing figures of 150,000 people who streamed matches in the first two weeks, only represents 40% of the clubs’ combined average match-day attendances.

Despite the impressive numbers for digital broadcast and match-day passes being priced at UK£10 (AUD $18), clubs playing in the second-tier Championship, as well as the third and fourth-tier League One and League Two competitions, have generated just a third of their usual gate receipts prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

EFL chairman, Rich Parry, alerted of the dire situation facing its clubs following the announcement of the British government of suspending plans for fans to return to matches.

“With extended measures introduced, it is imperative that the financial issues facing our clubs are addressed quickly.” Parry said.

“EFL clubs lost UK£50 million (AUD $90 million) last season as a result of playing matches behind closed doors or curtailing the season and stand to lose a further UK£200 million (AUD $360 million) in 2020/21 should we be required to play the whole season without supporters in grounds.

“I am encouraged that the government has recognised the need for urgent financial assistance for sport and discussions will continue with DCMS and the Premier League,” he said.

Premier League clubs are reportedly losing UK£100 million (AUD$181 million) a month without match-day income and, so far, have been unable to offset these losses by selling pay-per-view (PPV) matches to fans.

For the first four rounds of the season, they are giving away the extra live games to UK broadcast partners Sky, BT Sport, Amazon Prime and the BBC.

The Premier League were reportedly looking at following the EFL model, which could bring in tens of millions of pounds in revenue each month.

However, it is thought the domestic broadcasters are not keen to give up the exclusivity of their rights, while clubs were previously concerned about watering down the league’s product before bowing to supporter pressure to air all matches.