Fans’ pay-per-view boycott raises £300k


Premier League football has been played behind closed doors since the competition resumed in June

Premier League fans boycotting pay-per-view games have raised over £300,000 for charity – but the controversial TV scheme will continue at least until next month’s international break.

Matches that are outside the scheduled TV broadcast selections are available on BT Sport Box Office or Sky Sports Box Office for £14.95 per game.

Games had been available free-to-air since the Premier League returned without fans in June.

But that changed in early October.

Clubs said the pay-to-view measure was an “interim solution” to allow fans to watch their teams live.

But Newcastle owner Mike Ashleyexternal-link called for a review on Monday, saying fans had “overwhelmingly rejected” the scheme.

The model is set to be extended to the matches on 6, 7 and 8 November, but it is understood clubs are likely to delay a longer-term decision until nearer to the Premier League getting back under way on 21 November.

The clubs, which voted 19-1 in favour of the move initially, want to wait on the latest information from the government regarding the return of fans to games.

On 9 November, the government will debate a petition about the return of fans which received more than 198,000 signatures.

BT Sport and Sky Sports reportedly want the pay-per-view model to be scrappedexternal-link because of concerns about the damage it is doing to their reputation.

The Premier League announced their broadcast picks for Novemberexternal-link on Friday, but there was no mention of pay-to-view games, with the league saying “additional broadcast selections will be announced in due course”.

When it was first announced the move drew criticism from football supporters, while former Manchester United and England right-back Gary Neville, now a Sky pundit, said on social media it was a “really bad move” by the Premier League.

Which fans have donated in protest?

There have so far been nine pay-per-view games since the model started with Chelsea’s home game against Southampton on Saturday, 17 October.

Liverpool fans raised over £120,000 for North Liverpool food bank after their 2-1 victory against Sheffield United on Saturday, while Leeds fans donated £57,000 instead of paying to watch their side win 3-0 at Aston Villa on Friday.

The NUFC Fans Food Bank group has made over £60,000 after fans boycotted Newcastle’s 4-1 defeat against Manchester United last weekend, while Tottenham Hotspur fans have already raised in the region of £16,000 despite their first pay-pay-view game not being until their home match against Brighton on 1 November.

Arsenal fans had donated £30,000 up to kick-off in their 1-0 defeat by Leicester on Sunday, with West Brom, Sheffield United and Fulham fans also contributing.

Manchester United and Manchester City supporters have given £25,000 to a local foodbank – despite City not yet having featured in a pay-per-view game, as have West Ham fans.

Simon Huthwaite, from the St Andrew’s Community Network, which runs the North Liverpool food bank, said the donation will make a “huge difference”.

“St Andrew’s Community Network has been superbly supported by fans of both Everton and Liverpool and we are indebted to Fans Supporting Foodbanks for their unwavering dedication and coordination over the last five years,” he said.

“The £120,000 raised in such a short space of time is really an incredible testament to the fact that local people really understand and have totally got behind the battle against food insecurity and food poverty.”

Martin Cloake, the co-chair of the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters Trust, said their involvement had come from “fan anger” and “that there was also a growing realisation that food banks really need our help”.

Leeds Supporters Trust called the charges “excessive” with fans already having subscriptions to sport channels and many still paying for a season ticket.

The next pay-pay-view match is Brighton’s home game against West Brom at 17:30 GMT on Monday.

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