Premier League: Government calls for more TV matches when fans miss out

By Dan RoanBBC sports editor
Brighton fans
A small number of fans were allowed into Brighton's Amex Stadium in a pilot last weekend

The government has urged the Premier League to consider making more matches available to be shown live while fans are not allowed in stadiums.

Under current plans, 160 of the total 380 top-flight games next season will not be televised, angering some supporters who cannot attend.

All 92 top-flight matches after last season resumed in June following a three-month suspension were shown live.

But there are no plans for that to continue into 2020-21.

Instead, the Premier League has made 220 matches - 20 more than originally planned - available for live TV.

A spokesman for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said: "Our focus is on working with the football authorities, safety and medical experts to get fans back in stadia as quickly as possible.

"It is for the Premier League and its broadcast partners to come to an agreement on screening matches, however we urge them to follow the spirit of Project Restart and listen to clubs' loyal fans and consider what can be achieved in the meantime."

The Football Supporters' Association (FSA) has campaigned for all games to be shown live in the UK.

The organisation said it "welcomes the Government intervention".

Chief executive of the FSA, Kevin Miles, added: "We all want to get back to games when it's safe to do so but it's not in anyone's interests to have a situation where fans excluded from grounds for reasons of health or Covid-related capacity reductions feel they have no option but to resort to illegal pirate broadcast schemes."

The Premier League has declined to comment.

Its next shareholders' meeting takes place on 3 September.

The Premier League season is set to start on 12 September, but as it stands, no fans will be admitted to top-flight matches before October at the earliest.

A limited number of supporters were allowed to watch Brighton's friendly with Chelsea on Saturday, which was used as a test event.

Sky Sports, BT Sport and Amazon Prime share the rights to live Premier League football in the UK, with the BBC able to show highlights.

All English Football League games will be available to watch from home while matches continue to be played behind closed doors or at limited capacity.

A temporary measure has been agreed with Sky Sports to allow all games not televised live to be streamed online.

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