Fans will still need Sky or BT packages for games that were scheduled for pay TV after returning from the Premier League – but many more games can be screened for free.
Just over half of the high-level games still to be played will be televised by the two broadcasters. They paid a total of £ 421 million to show them off.
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But some or even all of the remaining matches could be broadcast for free on both channels.
All matches having to be played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus crisis, this would allow ticket holders to always see their teams.
Last night, a television official close to talks between the government, Prem chiefs and broadcasters said, “Sky and BT will not give up their rights to the games for free.
“They are businesses after all – and that would be crazy.
“But other games that weren’t scheduled for television should now be released. “
THE RETURN WOULD NEED TO SEE THE DEATH RATES IN DIVING
The Sun revealed yesterday how the ministers were looking for ways to get top sports back in the coming weeks to give the bored Britons a much-needed lift.
Strict criteria should be met – including the country where death and infection rates are plunging, while sports ensure that everyone involved remains safe.
The plans, dubbed Project Restart, would see devices such as Manchester City v Liverpool – scheduled to air on Sky on April 5 – be screened on a subscription channel.
But other clashes such as Crystal Palace v Burnley – which was not to be televised – could now be screened for free.
These games are likely to be filmed by Sky and BT teams and broadcast on their free channels, online and via applications.
Sky has two free channels on Freeview – Pick and Challenge – and Sky and BT have popular apps that work on smart TVs, tablets and phones. Any reboot could be in a month or more, since football bosses have to figure out how to organize the games and players will need at least two weeks of training.
But the reestablishment of Prime Minister Boris Johnson would see the return of sport as an essential element to boost morale.
A decision could be announced as early as May 7, the date of the next government foreclosure review.
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Authorities are also closely monitoring Germany, where a provisional return date for its Bundesliga has been set for May 9.
The bosses of the league have established plans for the matches to take place with a maximum of 322 people present on the field. Players will need to be tested before the games start here, with less land being used for disinfection and skeleton TV crews filming the action.
Culture secretary Oliver Dowden said the game should not start without all the fans having a chance to watch.
He said, “I told the Premier League that it would not send the best signal if it was one of the first major sports to resume in camera and that the general public would not have access to it. . “
Sky and BT rights holders resisted calls to broadcast all games for free. The bosses fear to be inundated with complaints and cancellations because existing customers would consider the subscriptions as worthless.
Sky holds the rights to 39 of the remaining game shows, including Spurs v Arsenal and City v Liverpool.
BT has eight, including Liverpool against Burnley and Aston Villa against Wolves.
BT also has rights to European matches and presented the free all-English Champions League final between Liverpool and Tottenham last June to an audience of 11.3 million.
Ministers fear that big games will see fans flocking to guesthouses with Sky or BT packages.
But hopes were raised yesterday for an imminent loosening of the lockdowns, including allowing people to socialize with up to ten family and friends.
A Whitehall source said yesterday, “Football clubs and the Premier League want to start again and want a schedule.
“No10 appreciates this, but will not allow it to happen when the key tests are completed.
“The ministers insisted that ticket holders must somehow be taken care of – with access to games or free refunds.
“But they will not participate in the à la carte talks.
FIVE CRITERIA THAT ALL SPORTS SHOULD MEET
The rules will be adapted to different sports – but they will all have to meet these general criteria:
- EACH sport should set up regular monitoring systems for participants. These should be paid by sports authorities or clubs to avoid depriving key front-line workers of the vital tests they need to continue working.
- STAFF should be protected from the risk of infection and any additional burden on emergency services should be avoided.
- CLUBS should also ensure that they have put in place measures to deal with the behavior of certain fans, such as the risk of impromptu gatherings off the pitch.
- This is on the backs of supporters of the Parisian club PSG who come to their stadium to celebrate their victory in the Champions League when their match against Borussia Dortmund last month was played behind closed doors.
- BEFORE any sport can resume, the government must first meet the five key criteria it has set for the country before any restrictions can begin to be lifted.
“It depends on the Premier League and the broadcasters. “
The television insider added, “It has not yet been decided how many of these games will be provided for free.
“It is likely to be a substantial proportion.
“However, Sky and BT do not want all games to be presented for free, as this devalues their products.
“But most of the games will be on TV, with the less prestigious games that Sky or BT had not recovered for free.
“It would be a way to allow clubs to try to keep fans happy – because at least they could see the games they planned to play. “
VIRUS WILL GOVERN ON RETURN OF FOOTIE
The source continued: “There is a great interest in the sport because there is a gap, so the appetite is greater than ever.
“And the sport will not restart until the lock is relaxed.
“However, sport is easier to govern than things like reopening pubs and restaurants.
“So the government has to keep in mind that some people might get together for matches, and the stage at which the virus is at its will will decide how quickly matches will be played.
“But it’s not as simple as showing all these games for free for everyone.
“There are contracts involving millions of pounds to consider.
“Premier League clubs receive huge funding from the agreement with BT and Sky – and that pays salaries and allows them to buy players from smaller clubs.
“When these agreements were made, if there were plans to make a large number of games available for free, they would obviously get a much, much lower offer.”
Sky and BT – which have filled their sports channels with reruns – have allowed customers to suspend transactions while the live action is postponed.
Clubs including Arsenal have offered fans refunds or match credits for matches played behind closed doors.
Sky specialist and former Liverpool and England defender Jamie Carragher said yesterday: “I don’t think we should avoid saying what football means to people.
“I understand that it is possible and I think it will give people a boost if football comes back. But the virus will decide. “
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