Premier League matches could return on free-to-air TV

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The Premier League is considering screening some behind-closed-doors matches on free-to-air television in Britain when the season restarts, the culture secretary has said.

Sky Sports and BT hold the UK television rights for live Premier League matches in what remains of the 2019/20 season, which is currently suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said there had been “productive conversations” with sporting bodies about how they would resume activity in the event of restrictions being relaxed.

Discussing how sport would be broadcast if held behind closed doors, he told the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee: “I have said to the Premier League it wouldn’t send the best signal if they were one of the first major sports to resume behind closed doors and the public at large couldn’t have access to it.”

But Dowden, who spoke to the lawmakers on Wednesday, refused to speculate further on which platforms would broadcast the games.

“If they are being mindful of access points, that doesn’t just have to be going onto traditional terrestrial matches, or even showing all of the matches,” he said.

“There’s all sorts of creative options within that but it is something they should be considering, and they have said they are.”

Dowden said the government had talked with the police, health authorities and local government as part of planning for a potential resumption.