'Let us watch our clubs!' Fans unite in plea to show games
Supporters of Albion, Villa and Wolves have united in calls for the Premier League to provide access for every match their team plays this season.
Fans currently face being shut out with the campaign starting behind closed doors and stadium’s only reopening in a limited capacity from next month.
Despite that, there has no far been no agreement to increase the number of matches broadcast live on television, with 160 of the top flight’s 380 matches set to be unavailable.
Supporters want the Premier League to reach an agreement for every match to be shown live on television, or provide a streaming service – similar to that offered by the EFL – for those unable to attend games in person.
Members of the Wolves Fans’ Parliament have gained the support of city MPs Pat McFadden and Stuart Anderson in calling for the league to find a solution before the season gets under way 10 days from now.
Wolves Fans’ Parliament chairman Neil Dady said: “It’s a real concern that after everything our club has done to remain connected with supporters throughout these unprecedented times, we are now in the very real position of loyal supporters being denied access to watch their team play live.
“We accept that the return of supporters needs to be phased in line with government guidelines but we cannot accept a position whereby our team will be playing at Molineux behind closed doors and live streams of matches won’t be available to season ticket holders and members.
“We call upon Wolves and the Premier League to make every effort to resolve this unacceptable position and put into place an arrangement similar to the one agreed between Sky and the EFL.”
The EFL announced last week a scheme where supporters can pay £10 to watch an online stream of matches played behind closed doors. Negotiations over a similar deal for the Premier League is more complicated due to the increased number of broadcasters.
However, the league did manage to reach an arrangement to show every remaining match of last season live – including some free-to-air – when the sport restarted in June.
As things stand, Wolves’ season opener against Sheffield United on September 14 is not scheduled to be broadcast live.
Albion Supporters’ Club chairman John Homer believes some fans will be driven to watch matches on illegal streams if the situation doesn’t change.
He said: “It was bad enough not being able to go to the match during the final weeks of last season but the prospect of not even being able to see it live is even worse.
“The Premier League is marketed as the best league in the world but there is a real danger of supporters becoming disenfranchised.
“In terms of the money coming into the game the last few years have been a golden age but when it comes to giving the fans something back, we get this. It will serve them right if people are driven to watching the games on illegal streams.
“You know it is a serious issue when supporters of Albion, Wolves and Villa are all in agreement.”
Villa supporters also face missing their first match of the season, at home to Sheffield United on September 19, with the fixture not having been chosen for broadcast by either Sky or BT Sport.
Mo Razzaq, a board member of the Villa Trust, believes some supporters could turn their backs on the sport.
He said: “We need something in place. We’ve seen what the EFL have done for supporters and the Premier League needs to follow suit.
“There needs to be a way for match-going fans to see the match if they can’t get into the stadium. I don’t believe fans would object to having to pay to watch their teams games online.
“The Premier League cannot afford to forget about the fans. They can’t just assume everyone will be back once the stadiums are back fully open.”
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