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Steve Bruce agrees with Mike Ashley that pay-per-view prices should be lowered

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Newcastle United – Premier League – Molineux
(Image credit: Alex Pantling)

Steve Bruce believes the Premier League risks losing its lustre by showing every game on television as the Newcastle head coach backed owner Mike Ashley’s calls for pay-per-view prices to be lowered.

Matches not selected for television broadcast have recently been made available on a pay-per-view basis at £14.95 each – with the cost widely panned amid the financial difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Supporters had an unlikely ally in Ashley, who said the controversial experiment in its current guise was “not acceptable” as he suggested a VAT waiver could shrink the cost of individual fixtures to as little as £4.95.

The model is set to be in place until next weekend at least, before a review, and although Bruce agrees with his employer’s assessment, he warned screening every game on TV takes some of the shine off the Premier League product.

“I agree with him, I think £15 is far too much when people pay their subscriptions to Sky and BT,” Bruce said ahead of Newcastle’s clash against Everton on Sunday afternoon.

“At this particularly difficult time I agree a fiver is enough. But if we’re not careful, we’re going to oversaturate it, too. We’re seeing every game and for me it’s not the spectacle.

“Look we’re all delighted that we’re all playing some sort of football but it’s not the spectacle, it’s not the same.”

Bruce, who also said he was “glad” Newcastle had agreed to reimburse season-ticket holders for behind-closed-doors games this season, revealed captain Jamaal Lascelles is a major doubt for the Toffees’ trip to St James’ Park.

The centre-back limped off with a foot injury in last weekend’s 1-1 draw against Wolves although the Longstaff brothers – Sean and Matty – are available again after a bout of tonsillitis and a thigh injury respectively.

While Newcastle have made a patchy start to their season, with two wins, two draws and two losses, their next opponents are the early pace-setters with 13 points in six matches.

Bruce holds Everton counterpart Carlo Ancelotti in high esteem and is not surprised to see them off to a flyer, after the Italian bolstered his squad by signing James Rodriguez, Allan and Abdoulaye Doucoure over the summer.

Bruce added: “I’m a big huge admirer of Carlo Ancelotti and what he’s achieved so it will be a tough, tough game for us, that’s for sure.

“The one area they’ve improved dramatically is the midfield area, the three players they’ve brought in have hit the ground running, they’ve given them an extra dimension.

“Whether they can last the pace we’ll have to wait and see but it’s quite refreshing that there’s another name at the top of the leaderboard even though we’re only six games in.”