THE Government has called for EVERY Premier League match to be shown live on TV until fans can return to stadiums – sparking a row with Sky Sports and BT Sport.
The broadcasting giants both reluctantly agreed for every match to be televised for the rest of this season to ensure it ran to its conclusion post-lockdown.
But they are on a collision course with Premier League chiefs after calls for every game for the ENTIRE 2020-21 campaign to be televised.
Sky Sports agreed to air 25 of their remaining 64 games for free as a gesture of good will – and to gain support from the Government.
However, Sky chiefs were adamant that would only be a one-off – with the suggestion they be coerced into doing it through all of next season said to have gone down badly, according to the Daily Mail.
Sky Sports have held a contract to air Premier League goals since its 1992 inception – but fear their latest, £5BILLION deal will be devalued.
BT Sport, who will show none of their 20 remaining games for free, are said to back Sky Sports completely.
In a bid to ensure all matches are made available to the public, both the BBC and Amazon Prime have been given four games each.
All of those matches will be aired for free, with Amazon doing so via streaming service Twitch – popular with gamers.
The Government wants to ensure matches are made available to as broad an audience as possible, with fans not allowed to go to stadiums.
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But, having shelled out £5bn between them to broadcast games between 2019 and 2022, BT Sport and Sky Sports fear they will lose subscribers if fans cancel their accounts and watch the free-to-air matches only.
Sky have already been told they WILL receive a £330million rebate to compensate for any potential lack of subscribers.
Clubs at the top of the Premier League table will foot the lion’s share of that bill.
And should all games be televised next season, too, both Sky and BT would be within their rights to demand similar rebates.
Should that happen, Premier League clubs could help the broadcasters try to limit availability of matches on TV.
Liverpool, for example, are expected to pay £25m to bail out Sky Sports.
Another potentially massive payout like that may see them take action to prevent it.
Despite their frustration, Sky Sports saw 2.6m supporters flock to watch Wednesday night’s clash between Manchester City and Arsenal – the highest tally in three years.
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A further 1.4m took in the first Premier League game back from lockdown – Aston Villa’s goalless draw with Sheffield United.
Meanwhile, the Government is hoping to welcome fans back to stadium as early as September, but heavily phased.
The initial suggestion is that just 25 per cent of stadiums will be filled – still a huge increase on the maximum of 300 matchday officials allowed inside grounds now.