Premier League ordered to show free-to-air games and share money to restart | Football

The Premier League has been told by the government it must show some matches free-to-air and put more money into the Football League and grassroots game as a condition for restarting this season.

The demands were made by the culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, at a meeting on Thursday at which he gave the green light for matches to resume provided it is safe to do so.

“The government is opening the door for competitive football to return safely in June,” Dowden said. “This should include widening access for fans to view live coverage and ensure finances from the game’s resumption supports the wider football family.

“It is now up to the football authorities to agree and finalise the detail of their plans, and there is combined goodwill to achieve this for their fans, the football community and the nation as a whole. The government and our medical experts will continue to offer guidance and support to the game ahead of any final decision which would put these plans into action.”

The Premier League is in negotiations with its broadcast partners Sky and BT over finding a solution to showing some matches free-to-air if and when the season resumes. The government’s preferred solution is that the remaining 45 matches not already covered under the terms of existing TV deals are shown either on freely accessible TV channels or via a streaming platform such as YouTube.

The government has also instructed the league to factor ‘solidarity payments’ into any final reckoning should the season be completed. Broadcasters have demanded a rebate whatever happens, but the DCMS has asked that any remaining funds from broadcasters should in part be shared with the rest of the football pyramid. The precise amount of any redistribution, however, is yet to be determined.

The EFL would expect a contribution towards filling the potential £200m black hole in club finances it faces by September.

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