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Premier League backing off pay-per-view plans, says CEO Masters

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The Premier League will scrap its controversial pay-per-view scheme imminently, chief executive Richard Masters confirmed on Tuesday to a government committee.

Fans, who are currently prevented from attending stadiums because of the COVID-19 pandemic, have been asked to pay out 14.95 pounds ($19.80) to watch games not already selected for broadcast by Premier League rights holders Sky Sports and BT Sport.

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It provoked a backlash from fans who already have to pay subscriptions for sports channels, and Masters said the Premier League would be changing direction.

"We needed to come up with a different commercial solution," Masters told MPs. "We took the decision to move to pay-per-view, now we're reviewing that decision.

"We have listened to feedback and we will be changing direction and moving away from it and taking another step that will see us through lockdown, the Christmas period and into January, but I cannot say what it is."

The Football Supporters' Association had urged the Premier League to reconsider the pricing and some fans opted to donate to a charity as part of a protest against the scheme.

Masters also said he does not expect the reintroduction of five substitutes for the "foreseeable future".

Clubs were allowed to increase the number of substitutes to five per match in the 2019-20 campaign when the league restarted in June, after a three-month hiatus due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

The teams reverted to three substitutes this season but Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp and Manchester City counterpart Pep Guardiola have both said the decision is partly responsible for a spate of muscle injuries across the top flight.

"We have had two votes on it at club level and both have been relatively supportive of three subs," Masters said.

"That has created some frustration, alongside discussions of fixture scheduling, which is related to the pandemic.

"There is a real issue and I don't see it changing in the foreseeable future."