The BBC is poised to be handed Bournemouth v Crystal Palace for its first live Premier League match, Telegraph Sport can reveal.
The schedule of June fixtures for Project Restart is close to being finalised, with the historic first live terrestrial broadcast of the world’s richest league pencilled in for a Saturday night prime-time slot at 7.45pm on June 20.
It can also be revealed that the first Premier League fixture back following the coronavirus crisis is likely to be Aston Villa v Sheffield United on June 17.
The game has been earmarked for 6pm and will be broadcast by Sky Sports, which is also set to show Manchester City v Arsenal at 8pm.
The first news of the schedule of games came as Amazon announced it would make all four of its own fixtures free of charge, taking the total number of free-to-air matches to 33 out of 92.
That would include Bournemouth v Palace, which could end up being the most watched Premier League game ever on UK television, breaking the record of 4.04million viewers who tuned in for the Manchester derby on Sky in April 2012.
However, the BBC could be trumped by Sky again the same weekend after the latter announced last week it would make the Merseyside derby free-to-air – which could be when Liverpool are crowned Premier League champions for the first time.
The day and kick-off time of that game was pending confirmation yesterday of whether it would be at Goodison Park or a neutral venue.
An announcement is expected within days on the full broadcast schedule for June’s Premier League fixtures, for which Sky has the lion’s share of games.
It already held the rights to City v Arsenal, which was called off in March after Mikel Arteta tested positive for Covid-19, days before all football in England was suspended.
Like the Villa-Sheffield United game, the match had been scheduled for the weekend of Feb 29, with both postponed due to City and Villa’s involvement in the Carabao Cup final.
Sky also had the rights to four other games that have been rescheduled for the weekend of June 20: the Merseyside derby, Tottenham v Manchester United, Aston Villa v Chelsea and West Ham United v Wolves (which is scheduled for Saturday 5.30pm).
BT Sport held the rights to Watford v Leicester City, leaving Bournemouth v Palace, Brighton and Hove Albion v Arsenal, City v Burnley, Newcastle United v Sheffield United, and Norwich City v Southampton as the games up for grabs.
The process of allocating those and the other 40 games not already contracted to Sky and BT for the rest of the season was described as “complicated” by one source yesterday.
But, broadly speaking, two or three per round will be shown by Sky, one or two by BT and one by either the BBC or Amazon – with the latter two likely to be handed among the least attractive fixtures.
In total, Sky will show 64 games (25 of them free-to-air) from the 92 remaining, BT 20 and the BBC and Amazon four each.
Meanwhile, the English Football League was last night expected to follow the lead of the Scottish Premiership by asking Sky to allow its clubs sell virtual season tickets if they were forced to begin next term behind closed doors.
EFL clubs can currently stream games not already shown on television but, like those in the SPL, will be desperate to find ways of mitigating against the loss of vital ticket revenue if fans remain locked out of grounds later in the year.
SPL teams have struck a deal with Sky that allows them to sell a package to season-ticket holders enabling them to watch home games. Access to away matches is the subject of on-going discussions.
The new SPL season begins on August 1, with the current campaign having been curtailed last month.