Premier League in FTA discussions
April 24, 2020
The Premier League is giving consideration to making fixtures free to air if/when the season restarts, according to UK culture secretary Oliver Dowden.
As well as lifting the general mood of the nation, the move could help stop the public visiting friends or family because they have a Sky Sports or BT Sport subscription enabling them to watch live EPL action.
All football has been suspended in England since mid-March as the UK bids to combat the coronavirus pandemic. There are still 92 matches left to play on the Premier League before the season can be deemed officially over.
Any return to Premier League football will see fixtures played behind-closed-doors, though talks have been underway to give fans access to games with the possibility of free to air fixtures being made available.
Speaking at a meeting of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport committee on how sport could be broadcast, Dowden said: “It’s a very good point and I’ve raised exactly this challenge to the Premier League in the conversations I had with them. I have said to the Premier League in particular […] I think it wouldn’t send the best signal if they were one of the first major sports to resume behind closed doors and the public at large couldn’t have access to it. I appreciate that sports are reliant on the revenue they derive so I don’t want to issue some blanket mandate on trying to change things round. But they are mindful and there are different ways you can protect revenue from broadcasting but also look at ways of increasing access. I have urged them to do that and that’s what they are considering.”
Dowden confirmed negotiations have begun over potential FTA fixtures, saying: “They need to be mindful of access points but that doesn’t have to be just in the form of going onto traditional terrestrial channels or, indeed, showing all of the matches. There are all sorts of creative options and I think it’s something they should consider and they have said they are considering it.”