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A third of all viewers of football on TV struggle to pay for their subscription package, new research has found. 17 per cent have sold items, borrowed money from family or friends, or taken out a bank loan to fund their viewing habits.

A staggering 64 per cent of fans have cut back on everyday spending to pay for their subscription.

Watching every game their team plays would involve taking out subscriptions to both Sky Sports and BT Sport, which is something 37 per cent of respondents do. Despite this, 41 per cent want to see more matches, and 48 per cent want to see every match their team plays. Which hardly seems unreasonable.

The research was commissioned by Virgin Media, and carried out by market research firm Kantar Media. For some time now, Virgin Media has had beef with the way TV rights for the Premiership are doled out. It asked the auction to be put on hold while regulator Ofcom carried out an investigation, but it went ahead anyway. The auction raised a record breaking £5.13 billion, with Sky securing live rights to 75 per cent of the games.

The survey asked 1,000 fans about their Premier League viewing habits and perceptions of price and quality.

"British fans pay the most in Europe to watch football on TV and they are not even getting all the matches they want," said Brigitte Trafford, chief corporate affairs officer at Virgin Media. "Too many people feel they now have to choose between basic essentials and watching the game they love.

"If action is not taken to change the way the Premier League sells TV rights, the rapidly rising cost of watching football at home will see even more people priced out of the national sport."

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