THE Premier League could make a shock U-turn on their £14.95 pay-per-view plan due to the fear of illegal streaming and a rise in coronavirus cases, according to reports.
Nineteen of the 20 clubs voted in favour of making all matches available to watch up until the end of October.
Leicester’s CEO Susan Whelan was the only chief to oppose the proposal in Friday’s shareholder meeting.
But it means matches not selected for TV coverage will be on Sky Sports or BT Sport Box Office at almost £15 a match.
And that would see viewers having to fork out a staggering £283 per month to watch every Premier League game.
The Mail on Sunday report a reconsideration of the plans could be put forward at another meeting this week.
And with pubs being exempt from the individual charges, The Telegraph add that the threat of fans flocking together to watch their team is a cause for concern with Covid-19.
Prof Gabriel Scally, a leading public health expert and member of the Independent Sage group, told The Telegraph: “It would be a very bad substitute to have fans gathering indoors.
“It does certainly appear to be a situation that would encourage fans to put themselves potentially at risk.
“We do know that a significant proportion of transmission is associated with the hospitality industry and pubs in particular.”
Steve Brine, the Conservative MP and member of Parliament’s digital, culture, media and sport select committee, said: “These are the worst of times and the Premier League has done much to lift spirits but this is not their finest hour.
“It will encourage people to gather together and that’s just not the spirit of right now in my opinion.”
Gary Neville slammed the top flight for its ‘really bad move’ while others proclaimed ‘football is dead’ after the announcement.
The barrage of backlash, especially on social media with many fans already paying for season tickets, led plenty to suggest they will simply find illegal streams online instead.
And the threat of fans opting to source matches through unofficial means has struck fear into Premier League bosses.
Football finance expert Kieran Maguire, author of The Price of Football, told the BBC: “It is going to drive people towards piracy.
“It discriminates against the clubs that don’t tend to be on Sky Sports or BT that often.
“The Premier League’s argument, which is that EFL clubs are charging £10 [on the iFollow platform] so we should be charging more because we have more cameras, is also flawed.
“The cameras were already going to be there because the matches would have been shown on Match of the Day anyway, so the set-up costs would be minimal.”
Premier League clubs claim they cannot afford to keep offering the extra matches at no additional cost – as has been the case since the restart in June – especially as pressure mounts on an EFL bailout.
Paul Barber, chief executive at Brighton, said: “The PPV offering also potentially provides all fans with access to away fixtures that they might not have got to see even in normal times.
“This is a short-term measure, let’s not forget that. Our priority is to get fans back in the stadium as soon as possible.
“I don’t know of any businesses that are expected to give away their core product for free, and least of all when jobs and livelihoods are threatened everywhere.
“We are trying to be fair to fans, while also protecting our business, and the jobs of our staff, as we work through an unprecedented crisis.”