Newcastle owner urges EPL to lower PPV cost: £14.95 'not acceptable'
The retail entrepreneur is an unpopular figure on Tyneside due to his failure to establish Newcastle among the giants of English football since he took ownership in 2007. His use of St James' Park as advertisement space for his company Sports Direct has also upset the Toon Army.
However, his sentiments regarding the Premier League's controversial pay-per-view scheme for some of its matches - which was introduced on Oct. 10 while COVID-19 prevents fans from visiting stadia - will undoubtedly draw backing from the majority of top-flight followers.
"Charging £14.95 for single televised matches in the current climate, it is not acceptable to any football fan," Ashley said. "Supporters have overwhelmingly rejected this offer and the Premier League must now act.
"Why not make it much more accessible at £4.95 per match until Christmas?
"The government should waive VAT on the above pay-per-view matches so that as many of those who are unable to attend matches in person can at least watch their team."
Ashley believes the proceeds from pay-per-view matches can be used to help keep clubs afloat in the English Football League (EFL) and below. The EFL is currently dealing with a shortfall of around £250 million while the coronavirus pandemic cuts its clubs' gate receipts, non-matchday income, and sponsorship revenue, resulting in calls for the Premier League to provide financial support.
The EFL rejected a rescue package worth £50 million from the Premier League on Oct. 15 because it fell "some way short" of what is required to cover the clubs' losses.
"The profit from the above reduced-price pay-per-view option, I would suggest that 50% would be retained by Premier League and 50% would go to the football pyramid below," Ashley offered.
"As a club, Newcastle United did vote in favour of the pay-per-view proposal, but to be clear, this was because there were no realistic or any viable alternatives put forward to enable supporters to watch matches."
Rather than pay £14.95 to watch their respective clubs, supporters of Newcastle and Leeds donated the money to local food banks.