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BBC unlikely to have pick of top matches

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'Rights packages from Sky and BT dwarf that of the BBC.' Photo: Ian West/PA

'Rights packages from Sky and BT dwarf that of the BBC.' Photo: Ian West/PA

PA

'Rights packages from Sky and BT dwarf that of the BBC.' Photo: Ian West/PA

The BBC's hopes of screening the biggest remaining Premier League games will meet resistance when the first free-to-air live matches are decided.

The corporation will screen four live matches for the first time in the competition's history, as part of the behind-closed-doors return agreed by top-flight clubs.

However, broadcasting sources said that any temptation among league officials to hand the BBC four glamour ties would upset rivals.

Rights packages from Sky and BT dwarf that of the BBC and, after weeks of tortuous meetings, league administrators are now keen to avoid any further upset as football returns in England.

The Premier League last night refused to detail how the fixtures would be shared between Sky, BT, Amazon and the BBC, but one broadcaster said: "It won't be done out of a hat." An announcement is expected next week.

"There is a pecking order here," the source added. "We would be extremely surprised, to say the least, if the BBC gets more than one match of significant influence at either end of the table."

Regardless of the matches, there is great excitement at the BBC at the prospect of recording the highest viewing figures for a Premier League match. "This opportunity creates a historic moment for the BBC and our audiences," said Barbara Slater, the corporation's head of sport.

"This will offer audiences, who haven't had the opportunity in the past, live, free-to-air access to the best football league in the world."

Sky will screen the return of champions-in-waiting Liverpool when they play Everton. The subscription broadcaster will make that match and 25 others available on its Pick channel for non-Sky Sports subscribers.

Biggest

BT Sport, the second-biggest rights holder, has decided against broadcasting any matches for free, with sources citing the financial hit it has already taken during the pandemic.

The final 92 Premier League matches will be split across four broadcasters to ensure fans can watch all their remaining fixtures while staying at home. Sky receives an extra 25 matches, taking its total allocation to 64.

BT Sport will screen 20, while Amazon Prime and the BBC have four each. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk