English Premier League clubs are mulling over whether they will allow season-ticket holders to watch non-televised matches, after the UK government decided not to allow fans back into stadiums next month due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Premier League had originally dismissed the option in its recent discussions on the issue of fan access that had culminated in a decision to make all fixtures played in September available for live broadcast in the UK.
But the clubs will be keen to avoid the expense of having to reimburse season-ticket holders in the current stretched economic climate.
The league has expressed disappointment that the UK government has postponed plans for the partial return of fans to stadiums on October 1 because of a spike in Covid-19 cases in the country. The government has suggested it could be six months before fans are allowed back.
The clubs are reportedly reluctant to continue last season’s ‘Project Restart’ initiative, which saw all 92 remaining matches broadcast domestically once football resumed after the first Covid-19 lockdown. This is because of the impact this could have on the value of its incumbent broadcasters’ rights.
Pay-television broadcaster Sky holds the bulk of the domestic rights alongside telco BT Sport, online retail giant Amazon, and public-service broadcaster the BBC.
The English Football League has already reached a deal with Sky whereby all matches not shown by the broadcaster will be available to stream on the EFL’s iFollow platform or clubs’ equivalent services for a match pass price of £10 (€11/$13) until fans return to stadiums.
Season-ticket holders of Championship, League One and League Two clubs will be provided with access to all home matches, subject to the agreement of the club. Sky is set to show 130 live EFL matches during the 2020-21 season.