Let’s say you are a season ticket holder at the Emirates or you are a fan that follows home and away games. Covid-19 deprived those supporters of a live football experience and subsequently, the only option left after the crowd less restart was to pay for either Sky or BT Sport. Fans like these, the lifeblood of the sport, paid reluctantly because at least they could follow their team in some form in the new Premier League campaign.
It seemed a reasonable fairway for the wheels of supply and demand to find a balance but then, pay per view was unveiled with the excuse that it gave fans additional matches which they otherwise wouldn’t have seen for a whopping £14.95.
The Premier League earned an additional £5m in blood money from box office games in the first two weeks, but thousands more refused to pay. Arsenal fans protested at the charge by donating money to a local charity, which at the point of writing had raised £34,000.
Liverpool’s supporters also protested in huge numbers raising £81,000 for Charity, which deprived the greedy Premier League executives of more illegitimate funds. The anger among the fans generated by this underhanded fee has not subsided over recent weeks and the Premier League is said to be in talks with clubs and TV companies to reduce the charges, even though a large number have already paid up.
There are now suggestions that the charge could drop to under a tenner, but some fans will still object because they have entered into long term agreements with sports channels expecting to see the majority of matches on their chosen channel.
The box office was seen as just another attempt to extort money from ordinary fans, who already pay substantial ticket prices to attend games. Surprisingly Mike Ashley, the Newcastle United owner, who has upset just about everyone with his ill-judged comments and decisions, has demanded the Premier League cut the price to £4.95 per match. That was deemed unworkable because it would cost clubs money to showcase the fixtures.
Make no mistake, this has been a PR disaster. One in which the Premier League was misguided enough to believe that fans would swallow the introduction of box office charges without question. They now know differently.
With players earning phenomenal amounts while the rest of the world struggles in the current pandemic, it’s slightly obscene to expect the humble fans to bail out the Premier League and the clubs within it. If things continue on the current path, the sport, in general, will have to cut its cloth accordingly, rather than expecting handouts or bailouts.