Being a football fan is a business expensive, but it's about to get even more expensive.
Saturday night at 8 p.m. Manchester United's game against Newcastle at St James 'Park will be the first game you will have to pay extra to watch in addition to the usual Sky TV subion fees.
Eight more games will be on pay-per-view by November 2, with more likely to follow as current restrictions on supporters in stadiums remain in place. The price? A whopping £ 14.95 per game.
Of course, the Premier League has always paid off in a way. Sky hasn't spent the past 28 years showing games for free and clubs aren't in the habit of letting fans go through the turnstiles without paying. But the only people allowed inside stadiums for the momentt are the players, the coaching staff, the officials and a few journalists.
When matches resumed after the lockdown, every match was televised - a generous move designed to lift the spirits of a besieged nation, but a short-sighted quick fix that pushed the powers that find themselves in a difficult situation.
Sky and BT Sport are contracted to show a number of live games per season - anything beyond that and they are basically giving away their product for free. It was never going to last forever, but fans have now gotten used to an all-you-can-eat football buffet and can't bear the thought of having to spit even more to keep it going.
It's hard to feel too sorry for the chair fans here - they always get the same number of games they signed up for after all -but with many clubs sitting on season pass payments, normally asking match fans to shell out again when the purse strings are tight and jobs are lost seems a bit unreasonable, even if their contributions will be. reimbursed or used as term credit.
And then there's this price: £ 14.95 per game. Considering Sky will currently be selling you its two autographs on the football channels, which average four games a week, for £ 18 per month; a £ 10 Sky Sports Day Pass for Now TV gets you access to 11 channels for 24 hours and in Spain you can stream all Premier League games on DAZN for a flat rate of € 10 per month, it looks like to a figure born out of pure greed.
(Image credit: Sky)
For more direct comparison, some will point to the EFL 's iFollow streaming service, which charges £ 10 per game for League, League 1 and League 2 clubs, although 'with a more limited level of coverage. But that ignores both the fact that all Premier League games are filmed and covered for highlights packages and overseas broadcasters anyway, so the extra costs should be minimal, and that the holders Season tickets of these EFL clubs can watch their home games for free.
Compared to the fight between Dillian Whyte and Alexander Povetkin in August, which grossed boxing fans £ 20, you could argue that £ 15 seems reasonable - but special events like this are a lot less frequent than footbal matchesl. For fans of smaller teams who tend to be chosen less often for live TV coverage - in the 2017/2018 season, for example, Burnley was just seven times compared to Manchester United's 28. - costs could quickly increase.
A streaming subion
Then there are those who compare the price to a match ticket, which is so dishonest that it 's a bit like comparing Lionel Messi to Lionel Blair. It also purposely ignores the fact that going to matches has long been considered too expensive, with football fans campaigning for you ars for lower ticket prices as more and more people find themselves not participating. .
Of course, the clubs themselves will be claiming poverty among it all, highlighting the havoc the coronavirus has taken on their match income. This may be true for those who cannot compter on the earnings of their international noodle partners, and according to Brighton & Hove Albion managing director Paul Barber, the clubs had no say in the £ 15 figure. But when the Premier League sides collectively come to spend almost £ 1.5bn in the latest transfer window, it's hard to generate too much sympathy.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but showing all matches live under existing subion packages, rather than offering a means of catering only for subion holders, has let the genie out of the bottle - but it could be used as a catalyst to change the way fans watch their teams on TV.
(Image credit: Laurence Griffiths / Getty Images)
Rather than broadcasters choosing the matches they want to show which leaves supporters of all the other teams to either wait for the match of the day or find a questionable stream, there has to be a better way to show matches that suit the way people are watching in 2020 - whether or not fans are allowed on the pitch.
Certainly offer a curated selection of games for a flat monthly fee, but make it an affordable basic option, with team-specific optional tiers above that will allow fans to watch each match involving the club they support. Better yet, give it away game by game as well, so those who normally participate in as many matches as possible don't have to throw you the full amount in case there is one they don't.could not do.
Add geo restrictions or terms of sale if clubs are concerned about protecting attendance (not that we have to worry about that right now) but the key is to make it affordable - maybe £ 20 per month for a digital subion, or £ 5 per game. Do that and hack - which would be costs English clubs £ 1million per game in lost sponsorship money - would practically disappear overnight as people become legitimate.
The coronavirus pandemic has exposed the flaws in the existing model and the technology is there to make things work better for fans. It is time that the most popular incarnation of sportfavorite of the planet is overtaken by the rest of the world.
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