It was with great disappointment that football fans of Premier League Teams received the information that if they want to watch their team play in the Premier League and they are not one of Sky or BT Sport’s “Chosen games” they must pay a fee of £14.95 to purchase the game through Pay Per View via Sky or BT Box Office. Whilst it is appreciated that there is a cost involved in broadcasting these games it is felt that the charge of £14.95 being made to fans is very excessive during this very difficult period.
This issue has been raised verbally and in written form via various routes but it is felt that the most visible way to get our feelings noticed is to “Vote with our handsets” – ie Boycott the Pay Per View Games.
Hitting the broadcast companies and The Premier League “in the pocket where it hurts” may make them realise that football fans will not be taken for a ride.
Therefore, the Fans Groups associated with Leicester City are asking fans NOT to purchase the forthcoming game against Arsenal on Sunday and any future games whilst the fee for these games remains at the high price of £14.95.
It has been suggested by fans of clubs throughout the Premier League that as part of the boycott those fans who feel able could “do some good for others” by making a donation to a local charity of the pay per view fee or an amount of their choice. In the case of Leicester City supporters some suggestions as to where this donation could be made are:-
… and countless other locations across Leicestershire, and beyond. There is something very special about European nights at Leicester, maybe because they do not come around that often, maybe because playing foreign teams in proper competitions is much more enjoyable than sterile pre-season friendlies. In football terms, fans being unable to go this match, The Foxes debut in the Europa League, was the biggest miss of all since fans were barred from attending back in March.
City, who came into the game on the back of two disappointing Premier League home fixtures, made two change with Fuchs replacing Justin and Maddison replacing Pérez. The visitors came into the game in relatively poor form sitting 9th in the Ukrainian Premier League although having drawn against the top two Ukrainian giants Dynamo Kiev and Shakhatar.
Any preconceptions that Zorya would sit back and defend were quickly banished as they took the game to City who were defending the Spion Kop end. Nothing much was happening in terms of good chances as Zorya’s high press game was keeping City struggling to get attacks mounted. On 22 minutes a long ball across the City box from Zunev found Kabaev in acres of space, he shot but the ball struck Schmeichel’s trailing leg and the danger was averted. City quickly broke and Iheanacho found Maddison who put the ball in the net however, the City midfielder was clearly offside and the goal was disallowed.
City were beginning to get more of the ball and just before the half hour mark, they took the lead. Iheanacho pushed the ball to Barnes who, from the left-hand corner of the box curled the ball towards the far post. The ball beat goalkeeper Shevchenko but rebounded from the woodwork. A melee ensued and Iheanacho was first to react and managed to keep the ball alive as he fell to the floor, his second touch managed to move the ball a few inches but it was enough to reach Maddison who gleefully side-footed into the net from three yards. Immediately the thought was VAR and was there any infringement in the build up to the goal but, with the realisation that there was no VAR, City fans could relax.
On 36 minutes Iheanacho linked up with Barnes and the City winger went through but his shot was straight at Shevchenko who saved comfortably. It was City on top now, looking more relaxed. Schmeichel relaxed too much though as his casual clearance travelled ten yards out of the box straight to Ivanisenya, a goal seemed inevitable but the forward’s early shot was wide of the upright; a real let off for City.
With half-time approaching, The Foxes went close as a Praet shot was blocked by Vernydub. Minutes later, City got the crucial second goal, and what a delightful goal it was. Good play in midfield led to Iheanacho receiving the ball with his back to goal and just outside the penalty area. As Barnes ran forward towards him, Iheanacho brilliantly fed him with a back-heel pass. Barnes pace took him clear of the defenders and through on goal and he lofted the ball to the right of the keeper to give City a two-goal advantage at the break.
The second half started with City getting an early chance as a pass from Barnes found Maddison on the edge of the box, his dummy and deft touch gave him space but his shot was deflected away from goal. On 55 minutes, a Maddison corner was met by Fofana who headed wide, although the height the centre-back leaped, and the neck movement to power the header were reminiscent of Walsh, Huth, Elliott et al.
City were looking comfortable now and just past the hour Praet fed Maddison who cushioned the ball, let it run across him and curled the ball just wide. This was to be Maddison’s last play of the night as he was replaced by Ünder: he had been looking bright and getting back to his best with another hour of football under his belt. The hold up play of Iheanacho, and his keenness to go looking for the ball had been a feature of the match, all he was lacking was a goal: on 66 minutes he got his reward. A poor ball across the face of the box from Ivanisenya found Iheanacho, he turned away from his marker and shot into the bottom corner to the right of Shevchenko, the relief for the forward was evident as he fell to his knees and looked and pointed to the heavens.
Changes to the City team were made as legs were preserved for future matches. City were not much troubled now but the number of changes made had reduced their fluency and threat. Ünder took a free kick that sailed well over the bar but showed glimpses that he might get the fans out of their seats: at first sight his style looks more Knockaert than Mahrez.
Three points in the bag and a good performance after a slow start. Brendan Rodgers said after the match “It was a very good win, it’s nice to get the points on the board and a clean sheet. We had to work hard, there’s areas where we can get better”. There were good performances all round, most notably from Maddison, Fofana, Iheanacho who was probably pipped for Man-of-the-Match by Barnes. Barnes pace and directness were a joy to behold. Fofana looked absolute class again with so much potential, although he will be more thoroughly tested against better opposition: we should know more about the level he is currently capable of after Aubameyang and Arsenal on Sunday.
So, the first Europa league match for City was a success, European debuts for several players and first European goals for Maddison and Barnes. If the match itself was a first for Leicester in the Europa League, then so was a City fixture having a female referee. Stéphanie Frappart from France had an excellent game, letting the game flow. In all truth the game was not a difficult one to referee but she was always up with play. It was also a joy to view a match without VAR, not used in the Europa League until the knock-out stages.
When the TV cameras played back incidents, any possible contentious decisions made by Frappart were seen to prove her correct. Incidentally, Frappart became the first woman to referee a major men’s European match when she took charge of the 2019 UEFA Super Cup between Liverpool and Chelsea. Some City fans may remember that her performance was in stark contrast to her French compatriot, Remis Harrel, who refereed the match at Filbert Street against Atletico Madrid, in 1997. During that match M. Harrel denied three blatant penalty claims for fouls committed on Muzzy Izzet, and then sent off Garry Parker for taking a free kick too quickly.
So, a night of firsts for Leicester City, but hopefully not lasts. The team play AEK Athens next week followed by Braga from Portugal; wouldn’t it have been nice to be under the lights in those cities.
The Foxes Board has decided we will not be running a match report for tomorrow’s game as we do not want to encourage any of the match reporting team to pay the £15 Pay Per View charge or watch an illegal stream to provide the report
We would encourage any City fan who has a twitter account to post the following tweet
@premierleague is still defending the indefensible. @skysports and @btsport should stop ripping-off fans with a £15 charge to view matches in a pandemic. This is no way to treat fans and subscribers who already pay them large sums of money.
The proposal put forward by Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC, which would change the control of football to be in the hands of the owners of the “Big 6” clubs has received total opposition from Premier League Fans Groups
The Football Supporters Association have also issued a detailed response to the proposal recognising the positive elements but not being deceived by the power grab that is being attempted at a time when EFL clubs desperately need funds to survive, read here:
As both statements make clear, the Premier League as an entire 20 club organisation have to act swiftly to provide the financial aid the EFL clubs need, but not by handing control to the Big 6 owners which would change the future of football forever.
We are confident that a combination of the FA, the Government and fans lobbying will stop this proposal in its tracks, while any changes to the game going forward must involve fan consultation, the Big 6 clubs may have just scored a big own goal, giving the Government the push to deliver its manifesto promise of fan led reform.
Fans of Premier League clubs are rightly angered by the latest announcement to charge £14.95 to view matches.
Leicester City apparently the sole vote of reason
By Steve Moulds
Back in August at a supporters’ engagement meeting, the Premier League (PL) executive were surprised at the anger expressed by fans’ groups (amongst them a Foxes Trust (FT) delegate) that they had no plan to televise all matches being played behind-closed-doors. PL’s reasoning was that doing so would cost them more than the £700m they had lost at the end of the previous season. The PL also appeared genuinely unaware of the bad feeling and publicity this would create with football fans, many of whom were stumping up hundreds of pounds in season ticket fees for the privilege of not watching their team play.
This led to campaigning by the FSA, Trusts (such as FT) and other fans groups, resulting in the PL agreeing to broadcast all matches at the start of the 20/21 season. Just when we thought this was a reason to celebrate a victory for fan power, the PL turns around and makes yet another decision without consulting fans. Unsurprisingly (except to the majority of the PL Board), Friday’s announcement has provoked a huge backlash and not just from fans. The widely respected journalist, Henry Winter of the Times, posted on twitter: “£14.95 to watch a game on pay per view is disgraceful. £5, ok, but £14.95? It’s disgusting. At a time when PL clubs spent £1.2bn on players. When they’ll give agents £200m. When so many families are struggling. The creed of greed is in @premierleague DNA but this truly stinks”.
However, let us for a moment take a step back from the hype. Yes, it is positive that the PL and clubs recognised that fans need to be able to watch their teams play, but the proposal is flawed in so many ways.
Firstly, it is not clear how the £14.95 price point was arrived at. Press briefings suggest that the PL thought £14.95 was a reasonable price to pay for their ‘superior’ product compared with EFL coverage at £10 per game. What they fail to recognise is that watching on TV is an inferior experience for regular match-going fans.
Fans groups have never argued that this service should be free – clearly there is a cost involved – but the price of £14.95 per game is too high. And because it is too high, it could have damaging effects, which fans’ groups have raised with the PL. There is an impact on individual’s finances at a time when many are stretched, encouraging use of illegal streams and encouraging people to gather to watch games together, risking the spread of Covid-19.
The pay-per-view plan also penalises fans of those clubs less likely to be selected for the regular broadcast schedule. They will have to pay more to watch their team than fans of the so-called glamour clubs.
A cheaper price point would not only have been fairer, it would have had more chance of expanding the audience and generating more income. And it would have shown that the Premier League is aware of the situation outside its own wealthy bubble.
Other considerations that should surely have been taken on board by the PL would be having cheaper access for Season Ticket holders or ring-fencing some or all of the funds raised to support lower tiers of football. Either would have been more reasonable and would have provided some sense that the PL ‘get it’ concerning how they are viewed as a business by fans, by the media and by Government. But none of these factors were thought of. The PL simply, so it seems, does not ‘get it’.
It has been widely reported in the press that the only PL club voting against the plans was Leicester City, with The Athletic stating “with Susan Whelan, the Leicester City chief executive said to have spoken “passionately” against the proposals” If this was the case, it can give us some hope that somewhere in the higher echelons of football there are still those who have consideration for the humble football fan, and who don’t just see them as cash cows. After all, what does £700m – or £35m per club – get you these days, the price of promising young defender?
Leicester City have been open to dialogue with FT about various aspects relating to pricing and other matters since the pandemic began – albeit not on the specific question of this pay per view plan. FT has conveyed our view as to how fans might react to different proposals. If there is one small positive to come out of this poor PL proposal, it is that dialogue about what fans think can sometimes make a difference to a clubs decisions, although in this case it seems only our club was truly listening.
We ask the Premier League and the media companies involved to quickly re-consider the pricing before the PPV games commence.