Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has suggested that BT Sport should make the Merseyside derby available to watch for free.
Everton host Liverpool on Saturday in their first game back since the international break. The visiting Premier League champions are hoping to spoil the party at Goodison Park by halting their rivals’ 100 per cent winning start.
MP Dowden hopes BT Sport would consider making the Merseyside derby free to air, given that the city of Liverpool is subject to the highest level of restrictions and pubs are closed.
Asked if that situation could encourage people to break rules on households mixing in order to watch the match, Dowden said: “I wouldn’t accept the premise that people in Liverpool are going to breach the rules at all, but if BT are able (to make the match free to air) as a gesture that would be a great thing to do of course.”
Dowden told MPs earlier on Wednesday he was “not massively impressed” by the pay-per-view arrangement that the Premier League has recently unveiled to broadcast some of its games.
“All these things, they jar with this idea of coming together during this period of crisis,” he said.
Masters defends PPV arrangement
Premier League chief executive Richard Masters says it is “defensible” to charge £14.95 for a match on a pay-per-view basis – but said that broadcasters were ultimately responsible for setting the price.
The league announced last week that matches in October not selected for regular television coverage would be available on a PPV basis while football remained behind closed doors because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The decision was criticised, among others, by the Football Supporters’ Association, who urged the league and broadcasters to reconsider the pricing.
Masters said on Wednesday: “We’re not the price-setters, but obviously we were fully aware of the prices when we committed ourselves to this service.
“The main thing is, is all fans still get to watch all Premier League matches while we’re behind closed doors.
“We think it’s a premium product. It’s got the normal Premier League production values. So we think £14.95 is a defensible price point as we’re confident in the product.”