Every single game in the Premier League could be free for fans, according to campaign body Football Supporters Federation (FSF).
The billions pouring in from the new TV deal starting this year means clubs could pay for every ticket for fans.
FSF spokesman Michael Brunskill told Loaded: “From the increase in the TV deal alone, if the clubs banked that, they could let every fan in every game in for free and not see a drop in revenue compared to the last TV deal. And that is just for domestic TV rights.”
In the last TV deal announced by the Premier League, the rights for seasons 2016-19 were sold for a record £5.136bn. That’s over a £2bn increase on the £3.018bn raised from the last deal for 2013-16.
Sky paid £4.2bn for five of the seven packages,while BT Sport paid £960m for the other two.
The average ticket price in the Premier League is £53.76 – the highest in Europe
The record sums for the TV rights hasn’t seen any ripple effect benefitting fans, with many Premier League clubs charging big sums for fans to bigger games.
The FSF believe clubs need to take a level of responsibility with the deals.
Brunskill says: “Sometimes, fans will unload all their anger onto Sky, BBC or BT Sport and not reserve any for their clubs. At the end of the day, it’s the clubs who have sold them out.”
Changes in kick-off times have long led to dissatisfaction from fans since the Premier League began in 1992-93. Although clubs have become steadily richer, ticket prices have soared above inflation. Only West Ham have substantially dropped ticket prices – and their move from Upton Park to the Olympic Stadium for the start of next season has infamously been funded by the taxpayer.
The FSF explained that clubs are happy for kick-off changes to inconvenience their fans, providing TV companies stump up the cash. Brunskill said: “At the start of the season, all the clubs come together and agree to all these concessions for TV deals – as long as you put enough money in our pockets.”
The average ticket price in the Premier League is £53.76 – the highest in Europe. And a third of its 20 clubs increased prices this season, despite knowing of the giant revenue increase under the new deal. By comparison, German top-flight clubs charge an average £23.02.
Loaded recently reported on the seemingly random ways in which clubs are allowed to increase prices for their most prestigious “category A” fixtures, after Leeds announced Bristol City would be a £42 category A fixture. The FSF has hit out at the categorisation.
But if fans hope Premier League clubs will ever offer free tickets, the FSF introduce a note of reality. “Clubs have owners who made their money on a supply and demand basis,” says Brunskill. “They say that’s working. Whether people from the local community of these clubs are priced out? Well, ‘Tough, that’s the free market’ is how a lot of owners see it.”
Loaded sports writer Pearse Corcoran has covered news, sport and entertainment for several national newspapers and radio stations in Ireland. Follow him on Twitter at @PearseCorcoran