Bilic fears pay-per-view TV is pricing fans out of football

LONDON (AFP) – West Brom manager Slaven Bilic fears fans could be priced out of football after being forced to spend extra on pay-per-view matches.

Premier League games in October that have not been earmarked for regular coverage can only be watched live via Sky Sports or BT Sport for a fee of GBP14.95 (USD19).

Fans already pay regular subscriptions to broadcasters and for season tickets to watch their team in person, something the coronavirus pandemic prevents them from doing.

“Football is not polo or golf,” said Bilic after his side had played out the first scoreless draw of the Premier League season with Burnley on Monday.

“It’s not my money, it’s their (the fans’) money. Football should not be free, but affordable. Football is the sport for masses, a working-class sport, and it should be affordable to everybody.”

Supporters’ groups have been vocal in their opposition to the pay-per-view model.

Newcastle supporters have raised GBP20,000 (USD26,000) by choosing to give to charity rather than watching their team play Manchester United on pay-per-view TV, according to a fans’ group.

Other groups are encouraging fans to boycott pay-per-view and give to charity instead, while a petition has been started calling for the charges to be scrapped.

Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters said last week that the pricing of the matches was “defensible” and that the broadcasters were ultimately responsible for setting the price.

The Chief Executive of BT’s Consumer Division, Marc Allera, said the suggested price came from the Premier League, and that BT was “pretty much just covering our costs to put these games on”.

Allera said the intention of the move was to “get some money moving into the clubs and the leagues that are struggling”.

It is understood Premier League clubs are yet to reach a decision on how to split revenue generated from the pay-per-view matches.