ABU DHABI // Football fans were furious after they were unable to watch four live English Premier League matches scheduled to broadcast on Saturday.
Regional broadcaster Al Jazeera Sport has the rights to cover all Premier League matches, but only showed the early match between Everton and Liverpool, a 3pm UK time clash, Arsenal and Southampton, and the late game between West Ham and Chelsea.
Dave Spours, a British expatriate who lives in Dubai, was unable to watch his team Newcastle play Norwich.
“I was furious,” Mr Spours said. “Only the Arsenal versus Southampton game was being shown. Al Jazeera didn’t mention it at all, not a word. It’s so bad.
“There was nothing on their website about this, no response from Twitter either. All you could watch was Arsenal or a replay of Brighton against Wigan – and even that was in Arabic.”
He pays Dh60 a month in subscription to watch all of the live Premier League games.
“If the problem isn’t solved I’ll cancel my subscription. I’m not paying for one game a weekend,” Mr Spours said.
There was no indication on the Al Jazeera Sport website as to why the service had been changed.
“The changes to the English Premier League will only affect Saturday 3pm kick-offs, which means that we can only show one live Saturday 3pm GMT match in each match week,” the broadcaster’s customer service centre said.
“We are still able to show all games on delay, which means that the game must not start until two hours after its original kick-off time. All other games are unaffected.”
The company claimed it was not responsible for the reduced service. “These changes are from the EPL committee and we have nothing to do with them based on the contract.”
Presenter Richard Keys received a number of questions on social media as to why the other games were unavailable. He cited contractual issues as a cause.
“Problems beyond our control. Sorry. Normal service will be resumed soon as,” Keys said to one viewer.
Many viewers took to Twitter to vent their frustrations.
“I was disappointed today that four English Premier League matches were not broadcast in any of Al Jazeera Sport channels,” said Twitter user Mohammed Kamal.
“Anyone know what exactly is going on with Al Jazeera Sport Premier League coverage?” asked Hisham Mongy.
“Really poor from @ajsenglish – only one live game. Online service not working. No acknowledgement of the lack of service. #ripoff,” tweeted David Hanson.
User Kevin Little asked Al Jazeera Sport: “Please could you explain why all 3pm UK time games were not broadcast? I pay a subscription fee each month based on an agreement which yesterday you did not fulfil, without any pre notice or warning! Shocking customer service! Please explain!”
A Dubai Twitter user suggested that viewers turn to clandestine means of watching games if they could not do so through the channels.
“We’ll all end up watching illegal streams and how do the Premier League benefit from that?” he tweeted.
Al Jazeera Sport was granted the rights to broadcast Premier League games on July 15 this year.
Under the terms of the agreement, it was given exclusive broadcasting rights in Middle East and North Africa for all 380 Barclays Premier League matches each season for 2013-2014 to 2015-16.
Subscribers to Al Jazeera Sport can pay Dh69 a month, Dh183 for a three-month pass or Dh330 for a full season.
The English Premier League did not respond to repeated requests for comment on Sunday.