Newcastle owner Ashley calls for cut in Premier League pay-per-view fee
London (AFP) – Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has called the Premier League’s controversial pay-per-view arrangements “not acceptable” as clubs prepare to discuss the policy at a shareholders’ meeting on Tuesday.
Matches played after October’s internationals that were not selected for regular television broadcast were made available on a pay-per-view basis on Sky Sports or BT Sport at £14.95 ($19) each.
Fans’ groups have urged a price cut, with many supporters opting to donate to food banks and other charitable causes instead of paying the fee.
Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said earlier this month the price was “defensible” while BT Sport said it was simply covering its costs.
Ashley, who explained his initial vote in favour of the pay-per-view proposal as being due to a lack of “realistic or viable alternatives”, has now proposed a reduced-price version.
“I am calling on the Premier League to immediately act and review its current pay-per-view arrangements for live matches in the UK,” he said in a statement.
“Charging £14.95 for single televised matches in the current climate it is not acceptable to any football fan. Supporters have overwhelmingly rejected this offer and the Premier League must now act.
“Why not make it much more accessible at £4.95 per match until Christmas?”
Ashley suggested profits from the reduced-price scheme should be divided equally between the English top-flight and lower-league clubs.
Premier League clubs had hoped to welcome back some fans to stadiums from October but the government has imposed an indefinite delay due to the rise in coronavirus cases.
The league has warned that English football will lose £100 million for every month supporters remain barred from grounds.