Given the alter in circumstances, “Ofcom’s resources could be used more effectively on other priorities to benefit consumers and competition”, the regulator said.

Ofcom took into account the Premier League’s recent decision to increase the number of matches available for live UK broadcast to a minimum of 190 per season from the commence of the 2019/20 football season, according to its announcement. In addition, the ‘no single buyer’ rule will prevent a single broadcaster being awarded the rights to every game, it said.

It also cited consumer research which found “a range of views about how multitudinous matches should be televised”. In particular, fans that attend football matches prefer to do so at 3pm on a Saturday, when Football League rules prevent matches from being televised, it found.

“We believe that a balance would require to be struck between the potential benefits of releasing more matches for live broadcast, and the potential disruption on match-going fans due to these games being rescheduled to be broadcast outside of the ‘closed period’,” Ofcom said in its statement.

“Due to the range of views expressed in the consumer research, significant further labor – including additional research among football fans – would be required to conclude this investigation,” it said.

Ofcom opened its investigation in 2014 in response to a complaint by Virgin Media, which alleged that the relative lack of availability of Premier League matches compared to in other top European leagues contributed to higher prices in the UK. The broadcaster currently offers entire matches televised by Sky and BT Sport via wholesale deals.

The Premier League announced a recent broadcasting partnership with Sky and BT Sport worth £5.136 billion in February 2015. The deal, which replaced the previous £3bn three-season contract the Premier League had with the same broadcasters, gives Sky the rights to broadcast 126 matches and BT 42 matches over each of the 2016/17, 17/18 and 18/19 football seasons.

The ‘no single buyer’ rule was introduced in response to a previous competition investigation, conducted by the European Commission in 2006. The commitments made by the Premier League in response to the Commission’s conditions possess since expired, although it has continued to market rights in accordance with the settlement arrangements.