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Dublin: 4 °C Sunday 15 December, 2019
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Blow for Premier League as Sky loses pub football case

Pub landlady can continue to use Greek decoder to transmit Premier League games.

Image: Peter Byrne/PA Archive/Press Association Images

IN A MOVE that may have wide-reaching repercussions for the way we watch football, the European Union’s highest court was today advised to rule that EU law does not prohibit pubs showing live Premier League matches from foreign broadcasters.

The decision could spark a revolution in the way sports rights are sold across the continent.

Read the full recommendation (PDF)

The Premier League is attempting to clamp down on British pubs buying in live coverage from foreign broadcasters.

But this morning Juliane Kokott, one of the eight advocate generals of the European court of justice, gave her view on a landmark case brought by Karen Murphy, landlady of the Red, White and Blue pub in Portsmouth. She uses a Greek decoder card to show live matches.

“The marketing of broadcasting rights on the basis of territorial exclusivity is tantamount to profiting from the elimination of the internal market,” she said.

“Consequently, the specific subject-matter of the rights in the transmission of football matches does not justify a partitioning of the internal market, and thus also does not justify the resulting restriction of the freedom to provide services,” Kokott writes in a non-binding opinion today.

The Luxembourg-based EU court that she advises follows such opinions in most cases.

The ruling could devastate the estimated £250million of revenue BSkyB gets from pubs in Britain.

The advocate further found that restrictions on cards so they can only be used for domestic or private viewing cannot justify territorial restrictions.

But member states can preserve the right of authors to object to use of their intellectual property in pubs.

The Premier League will release a statement later today and are expected to fight any overturning of the current ruling. The ruling may have an harsher effect on lower league sides however.

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