Premier League could be free to view in a 'fan ban'
LONDON - Premier League clubs have held talks with broadcasters about streaming live matches free of charge if ordered to stage games behind closed doors by the government.
League officials were told yesterday there is currently no need to cancel events or restrict crowds, at a meeting also attended by the governing bodies of the other major sports at the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
But contingency plans are being put in place should Public Health England deem it necessary to follow the example of Italy, where all sport has been suspended until at least April 3.
The government will continue to brief the governing bodies on a daily basis, with clubs asking to be given as much notice as possible if they are going to be asked to postpone or cancel games, or change arrangements for fans.
England’s friendly international against Italy, scheduled for March 27, seems set to be the first football match to be called off, given the strict measures put in place by the Italian government in an attempt to limit the spread of coronavirus.
The FA are waiting for the Italian Football Federation to cancel the fixture and there are no plans to seek an alternative opponent.
England are due to play Denmark four days later in what will be their final game before Gareth Southgate names his squad for Euro 2020.
Part of yesterday’s talks are understood to have involved the implications for television in the event of games being held behind closed doors — with one option being streaming matches for free.
The FA have raised the possibility of waiving the Saturday 3pm blackout to allow more matches to be broadcast. The Premier League regard that as a dangerous precedent and may object.
The Football League have told the government some clubs fear going out of business if games have to be played behind closed doors.
Around 60 people attended yesterday’s meeting, which included officials from government, broadcasters and sports authorities.
A DCMS spokesman said: ‘Government officials chaired a constructive meeting of sports and broadcast partners as part of sensible contingency planning in relation to Covid-19,
‘This included a discussion of how staging sporting events behind closed doors could work in practice. However, based upon the current scientific advice, there is no rationale to close or cancel sporting events as things stand.’
Wolves’ Europa League last-16 first leg at Greek side Olympiacos on Thursday will be played behind closed doors.Daily Mail