As a member of the Aston Villa Fan Consultation Group (FCG), My Old Man Said (MOMS) has been disappointed by the fact there has been zero consultation from the club since before lockdown, beyond vague promises of zoom meetings that haven’t yet materialised.
The group haven’t been consulted at any stage regarding the potential phased return of supporters or on the many issues that have arisen over the last few months. If there was ever a time for such meetings or communication to at least help keep supporters in the loop, you’d think with the current climate of pandemic uncertainty, it would be now.
Other clubs have been able to pull it off.
The latest issue worth some club communication has been the introduction of Pay Per View broadcasting of Premier League games, that aren’t picked for Sky/BT/Amazon’s broadcasting schedules. Such games will be screened for £14.95 each on Sky Boxoffice, meaning any Villa fan, who may already subscribe to Sky and BT Sport, will have to pay an additional £45 for Villa’s three games in October.
MOMS understands, that some Premier League clubs asked for other options, most notably the capacity for clubs to use their own TV channels and have control of the price point. Ultimately, the vote was just on the £14.95 price that the broadcasters had set.
While Leicester City were the only Premier League club to vote against the notion of the £14.95 PPV, many others begrudging voted for it, on the basis that at least it provided the choice of being able to watch the games.
It seems the only other alternative that was being presented was that the games would not be screened at all. So while you have to welcome the opportunity to watch the games, it certainly leaves a bitter taste when it comes to the price point.
Some people in the footballing industry – who should perhaps know better – have tried to justify the price by comparing it to the savings made on going to games. This is a clumsy comparison, as they are not the same thing.
A ticket to a live event, be it a sporting event, music, ballet, theatre or gallery, is a unique life experience, that watching the same thing on TV does not equate to. The trip and experiences of being there are simply not comparable.
“I watched Villa win the European Cup on TV” is not the same as “I was there in Rotterdam in ’82”.
You have to look at a direct comparison to see why the price point of £14.95 in the current economic and pandemic climate is tone deaf and disrespectful of supporters.
Day Pass Comparison
Normally, if a football fan without a Sky Sports subscription wants to legally watch a Sky broadcasted game that their team is playing in, they can buy a Now TV day pass for £9.95.
Not only do they get the 90 minutes that they want (with all the camera angles), but in that 24 hours they also have the added value of potentially seeing two or three other games, plus a full 24 hours of Sports channels to watch.
This also makes a mockery of the other argument, that has been made to justify the PPV price of £14.95, that it’ll be a better production than the EFL version at £10, as it’ll have “more camera angles”. Well, for the same price as the EFL offering, Premier League football fans have already had the best production values Sky can offer (and with crowds). Premier League games are filmed from multiple angles anyway to service international broadcasters and Match of the Day etc. So it’s nonsense reasoning.
Football supporters are of course a captive market and the pricing of £14.95 is an example of the exploitation they are open to by clubs and broadcasters.
If you are planning on watching Leicester City vs Aston Villa, how will you do it? 💷📺🏴☠️ #AVFC— My Old Man Said (@oldmansaid) October 15, 2020
Despite the clubs reportedly voting 19-1 for this PPV price, it didn’t take long for anonymous briefings to surface, suggesting some clubs at least didn’t really agree with what they had voted for. That came in the face of almost universal condemnation of the decision. It’s not guessing to think at least some clubs know they’ve got this badly wrong.
I’m sure we’ll find out what Aston Villa’s stance was once a long-awaited FCG meeting takes place in the hopefully near future.
Maybe initial consultation with PL club’s respective fan groups would have informed a more suitable price point, thus providing a deal that would have worked for everyone?
In these pandemic times, football is increasingly an escape for fans, so we don’t want to be watching our football in a begrudging or bitter fashion.