The Premier League’s decision to televise matches that had not already scheduled to be broadcast on a pay-per-view basis will drive fans towards illegal streaming, football finance expert Kieran Maguire has said.
Those in charge of the English top tier introduced the idea as an “interim solution” for fans to continue to be able to watch their teams live while the public are banned from entering stadiums due to protocols intended to help curb the spread of coronavirus.
Premier League clubs voted 19-1 in favour of the scheme, but Maguire, author of The Price of Football and senior teacher in accountancy at the University of Liverpool, has sided with fans critical of the exorbitant fees being charged by broadcasters.
“It is going to drive people towards piracy,” Maguire told BBC Radio 5 Live of the £14.95 cost per individual match. “It’s a public relations disaster. It discriminates against the clubs that don’t tend to be on Sky Sports or BT that often.”
In addition, Maguire believes that charging so much for a single game will lead to the breaking of government protocols as people will gather together in order to split the cost, potentially putting lives at risk.
“Families and friends are going to gather together, which completely goes against what we are trying to achieve by discouraging people from going into other people’s houses,” he added.
“If they got the pricing right it might have been fine, but nobody actually knows what is happening with the money. Is it going into a central pot? Is it being used to bail out lower league clubs? Or is it going to be kept by the individual clubs who are playing these particular matches?
“It all seems to be a bit ill-thought through.”
Indeed, English Football League clubs are operating a similar strategy but are charging only £10 per match, with the Premier League of the opinion that charging more is acceptable due to boasting more extensive visual cover.
Maguire, however, disagrees, adding: “The Premier League’s argument, which is EFL clubs are charging £10 so we should be charging more because we have more cameras, is also flawed.
“The cameras were already going to be there because the matches would have been shown on Match of the Day anyway, so the set-up costs would be minimal.”