Pricing Fans out of Football? – The PPV Conundrum
Author: Emily Pulham. Published: 21 October 2020 at 6:04pm
Written by: Graham Keeffe
The concept of pay-per-view is a well-established money-maker in several sporting disciplines. Fans of combat sports such as boxing and MMA appear quite happy to front up for big fights and events that are generally televised at an unsociably early hour for those residing this side of the Atlantic. However, when the Premier League announced plans to charge £14.95 to watch an otherwise untelevised match while fans are still unable to attend matches, it was met with strong opposition from the vast majority of the footballing community.
On top of this up-front fee, there is also the need to have an existing subscription to either BT Sport or Sky. With some clubs having already taken payment for season-tickets, the move further hits the pockets of supporters. All of this is further exacerbated by the ongoing global pandemic, which has resulted in a severe global economic downturn. The voting on the matter from a clubs perspective was unanimous, with Leicester City the only team voting against the move. Over 7 months have passed since fans were last allowed to safely congregate in stadiums and instead of attempting to make the virtual experience more interactive and cost-friendly, the league appears set on adding an unnecessary financial hurdle.
Following West Brom’s 0-0 draw with Burnley on Monday night, former Hammers boss Slaven Bilic had his say on the matter. “It’s not my money, it’s their money. Football should not be free but affordable…it’s the sport for masses, a working-class sport and it should be affordable to everybody.” The game itself was one of the first to go behind the new £14.95 paywall. The stalemate was perhaps an additional sting to those who had forked out the cash in the hopes of watching their side take a much-needed three points. Up until Monday night, 46 games had been played in the Premier League 2020-2021 season with 171 goals scored and not a single 0-0 being recorded (Per Squawka).
At a time where there is consistent calls for remaining spiritually together but physically apart, the move from the Premier League to add additional pricing measures to watch football leaves an unsavoury taste in the mouth of supporters. From a West Ham perspective, it was amazing to watch the lads come from 3-0 to grab a draw against Tottenham. Lanzini had a 2% chance of scoring that goal and when he did, households across Britain were momentarily deafened by celebrations. We enjoyed that moment without the additional fee. It is unlikely that many fans would have seen that goal live had the PPV model been implemented for the game. Pricing fans out of football is simply not the way forward and will not be tolerated in the long run.
In protest to their side’s PPV game against Manchester United on Saturday, the Newcastle-based “Charity Not PPV” campaign managed to raise £20,000 for the city’s West End Food Bank. Similar efforts have been made by other club supporters such as Aston Villa and Leeds as fans lobby together to oppose the PPV scheme. As well as demonstrating what good can be done with the PPV price, it sends a clear message to the Premier League hierarchy as to where fans stand on the matter. The boycott to the additional pricing will no doubt gather momentum in the coming weeks, before the league reviews the model at the end of October. With the opinions of supporters being staunchly expressed, the ball is in the league’s court to remediate the situation.