Football fans who have paid out huge sums for hotel rooms, apartments and villas at the Qatar World Cup face arriving to find no live TV coverage of the tournament there.
That Mail on Sunday understands that a number of hotels in Doha have decided not to screen games, having been told they will have to pay host broadcaster BeIN Sports around 100,000 Qatari riyals (£24,000) for every restaurant or bar which shows them.
The cost of making games available in rooms remains unclear, though hoteliers describe those fees to be unviable, too, with no flat rate per establishment. The costs are also thought to be affecting proprietors of rented villas and apartments.
Hotels rooms are beyond the budget of many fans travelling to Doha, where even rudimentary metal cabins will cost a minimum of £176 per night.
But fans who have paid out £400-a-night will be dismayed to find no in-room broadcasts and no games screened in restaurants and bars.
Ashley Brown from the Football Supporters Association (FSA)’s ‘Free Lions’ team, which is working to help fans who want to get to the tournament, said: ‘This will be seen as another added frustration for the loyal fans travelling to Qatar for the World Cup.
‘With entertainment options already limited, watching matches on TV with fellow fans from around the world should be one of the tournament highlights.
‘Fans now face the possibility of rented villas, apartments, hotel rooms and other accommodation where they cannot watch games.’
The Mail on Sunday also understands that the Qatari state is giving serious consideration to allowing the country’s 60 licensed hotels to serve alcohol for 17 hours a day during the World Cup – from 10am to 3am – and to drop the price.
This is a significant change in a country where licensed premises currently don’t sell alcohol before 7pm, with even tighter restrictions on Fridays, a day of prayer.
Government officials have circulated a note to licensed establishments suggesting the extension of hours and also canvassing opinion on a temporary lower alcohol price cap.
The state sets the price of alcohol, which is typically costs £12-£15 a pint. Despite the circular, it is widely thought that the Qatari state has a £7- £8 price in mind and will simply impose it.
With few accommodation sites expected to screen games, fans are being encouraged to use the official FIFA Fan Zone at Doha’s seafront Al Bidda Park, where alcohol will be served from 6.30pm to 1am.
But there are concerns that that 40,000 capacity may not be adequate, with one million visitors expected in Qatar and few alternatives for the many not at a game.
Alcohol is available from 10am to 5am at the 15,000 capacity Glastonbury-style Arcadia fan site, which has DJs.
But the daily cost of entry there is expected to be an eye-watering £75. There will be no alcohol at the vast ‘cabin villages’ which are still under construction.
BeIN Sports said it could not disclose commercial arrangements with hotel and accommodation providers. But it indicated that it had to recoup some of the huge fees for tournament broadcasting rights, as well as its investment in production and technical facilities.
The broadcaster said that hotels and other establishments in Doha would earn unprecedented foot-fall and financial rewards from broadcasting games. It pointed out that host broadcasters had imposed charges at previous other World Cups and tournaments.
It is thought that BeIN, like others broadcast rights holders, has an obligation to make some games free-to-air.