Premier League close to climb­down on TV games

‘Con­struc­tive con­ver­sa­tions’ over broad­cast­ing ev­ery match Drinks breaks to be scrapped but other pro­to­cols will re­main

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport Football - By Ja­son Burt

The Premier League is poised to bow to pres­sure and agree to tele­vise all top-flight fix­tures while matches stay be­hind closed doors.

A fi­nal de­ci­sion will be taken early next week, ahead of the sea­son start­ing on Sept 12, but ac­cord­ing to sources there were “con­struc­tive con­ver­sa­tions” dur­ing a share­hold­ers meet­ing of the 20 clubs yes­ter­day, which ap­pears to rep­re­sent a sig­nif­i­cant shift. The dis­cus­sions also in­volved the Premier League’s broad­cast part­ners – in­clud­ing Sky Sports and BT Sport – which were also de­scribed as pos­i­tive.

The Gov­ern­ment has al­ready made it clear that it be­lieves sup­port­ers should be al­lowed greater ac­cess to games while they are not per­mit­ted to at­tend. A spokesman for the De­part­ment for Dig­i­tal, Cul­ture, Me­dia and Sport had urged the Premier League to “fol­low the spirit of Project Res­tart”.

All 92 games were tele­vised live on gov­ern­ment or­ders un­der Project Res­tart, the name given to the re­turn of the Premier League be­hind closed doors last sea­son folAll low­ing the sus­pen­sion of football. Now the Premier League in­sisted it was not sim­ply giv­ing in to gov­ern­ment pres­sure and that yes­ter­day’s meet­ing was the first op­por­tu­nity it had to fully dis­cuss the is­sue of tele­vis­ing more games with the clubs.

How­ever, its stance is a clear change from the state­ment is­sued af­ter the pre­vi­ous meet­ing, when it sim­ply said its fo­cus was get­ting fans back into sta­di­ums.

It is un­der­stood that sev­eral clubs, al­ready ner­vous at the squeeze on their fi­nances, were re­sis­tant be­cause they feared the ef­fects on ex­ist­ing broad­cast deals and also on sea­son-ticket sales. But it ap­pears the ar­gu­ment to show all the games – at least for Septem­ber

– has now gained wide­spread sup­port, es­pe­cially if, as re­mains the plan, fans will be al­lowed back in to sta­di­ums on a lim­ited ba­sis from the be­gin­ning of Oc­to­ber, with a cap of 30 per cent ca­pac­ity.

As things stand, fans of clubs in­clud­ing New­cas­tle United and Burn­ley would go through this month with­out be­ing able to see their team play live, while all of the games for the “Big Six” are al­ready sched­uled to be shown.

At the share­hold­ers meet­ing there was a sec­ond vote on whether five sub­sti­tutes should be al­lowed again this sea­son. How­ever, it was again re­jected, by 11 clubs to nine, so the rules will re­vert to three sub­sti­tutes be­ing per­mit­ted.

the other pro­to­cols that were put in place un­der Project Res­tart will con­tinue for the be­gin­ning of the next cam­paign ex­cept for the drinks breaks mid­way through each half, even though part of the orig­i­nal idea be­hind them was to al­low equip­ment to be ster­ilised.

The clubs de­layed the draft­ing of a rule on what should hap­pen in the event of the sea­son be­ing cur­tailed by a sec­ond spike in the pan­demic. It is un­der­stood that no for­mula has yet been favoured and so the sea­son will start with­out the rule change, al­though one is ex­pected to be agreed soon.

The Premier League is also in talks with play­ers over how to con­tinue the anti-racism cam­paign.

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