Premier League clubs could be forced to pay the competition’s domestic and international broadcast partners as much as $644 million in refunds even if the 2019/20 season is finished behind closed doors, according to BBC Sport.
BBC Sport said the refunds would be owed as games would not be staged as originally agreed upon in the league’s broadcast contracts, without fans in attendance and at different kick-off times.
This report comes after the Premier League met with its clubs to discuss ‘Project Restart’, which aims to have the competition resume around the week commencing June 8.
Premier League chief executive, Richard Masters, who was recently given the reigns of the league, said the league could face a total loss of at least $1.85 billion if the 2019/20 season is cancelled.
“We were able to update our clubs today on our situation with broadcasters, which is obviously confidential,” Masters told the BBC.
“Whatever happens, there’s going to be significant loss of revenue for clubs.
“That is inevitable.
“We were able to paint a picture today about what would happen in various scenarios, playing out the season and not playing out the season, to allow them to have a picture of that as we stand in the early part of May.
“But in terms of putting an estimate on it, I don’t want to do that today.
“Everybody would prefer to play at home and away if at all possible, and it’s clear to see some clubs feel more strongly about that than others.
“I think some of our clubs would argue that in relation to policing their own fans that they have a good relationship with them.
“They can encourage their own fans not to turn up outside their home venues while they’re playing behind closed doors, and they’re in a better position to control that, but it’s not a matter of convincing, this has to be a decision that’s come to mutually,” he said.
The Premier League could be permitted to resume behind closed doors from June 1, after the British government released a road map for exiting the current COVID-19 lockdown, indicating top-level sport in the United Kingdom could resume behind closed doors from June 1.
“Step two” of the ‘Our Plan to Rebuild: The UK Government’s COVID-19 Recover Strategy’, which the government said would only play out if sufficient progress is made in limiting the spread of COVID-19 before June 1, includes permitting culture and sporting events to take place behind closed doors for broadcast purposes, avoiding the risk of large-scale social contact.
In the document, it was indicated sport fans may not be allowed to attend events until a vaccine for COVID-19 is found.
The document warned that opening venues for sporting events to fans ‘may only be fully possible significantly later depending on the reduction in numbers of infections’.