Manchester United legend and Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville was among the prominent figures to criticise confirmed plans for a number of Premier League matches to be shown on pay-per-view platforms this month.
Earlier on Friday, the top-flight confirmed that all Premier League matches will continue to be shown live on UK television until the end of October, with fans still not permitted to return to stadiums.
However, the key change will now see five matches per round not originally picked for TV coverage made available on a pay-per-view basis via BT Sport Box Office or Sky Sports Box Office at a cost of £14.95 per contest.
“Clubs today agreed this interim solution to enable all fans to continue to watch their teams live,” the Premier League said in a statement.
“The agreement will be regularly reviewed in consultation with clubs and in line with any decisions made by Government regarding the return of spectators to stadiums.
“Football is not the same without supporters at matches. The Premier League and our clubs remain committed to the safe return of fans as soon as possible.”
The decision to charge fans £14.95 for some single matches with those watching games on TV in the UK already paying for a subscription to Sky Sports or BT Sport has drawn a furious reaction from many on social media, including Sky regular Neville.
“This is a really bad move by the @premierleague to charge £14.95 for single matches that have been shown free for 6 months!,” the former England defender fumed on Twitter.
Meanwhile, the Football Supporters’ Federation (FSA) welcomed the news that all games would continue to be broadcast live, though said they had already been contacted by fans concerned about the pricing of pay-per-view matches and urged that to be reviewed.
“Today’s announcement shows that fan power works,” an FSA statement read.
“At the start of this season the Premier League and its broadcasters had planned to leave match-going fans entirely locked out of their side’s matches; now thanks to the sustained pressure of our #LetusWatch campaign all games will be available for fans.
“Many Premier League clubs have already taken money from fans, particularly season ticket holders, for matches they can’t attend so we urge them to get refunds out to those supporters as soon as possible.
“We’ve also already heard from many supporters and FSA members who are concerned about the £15 per game being charged and we’d urge BT Sport and Sky Sports to reconsider their pricing for these games.”