EU ruling could revolutionise Premier League TV viewing

Viewers may soon be free to by-pass UK broadcasters and watch matches on cheaper foreign channels

Martin Caparrotta
By Martin Caparrotta
television camera

television camera

An EU ruling could dramatically change the way Premier League football broadcasting rights are sold in Europe.

The English top flight currently sells its rights to live matches on a country-by-country basis and has been trying to stop pubs and clubs in Britain from showing matches using foreign satellite decoders.

Pub landlady Karen Murphy used a Greek decoder in her Portsmouth pub to screen top flight matches for a 10th of what she would have to pay BSkyB, one of the UK’s exclusive rights holders.

She faced a fine and costs of nearly £8,000 after the Football Association Premier League took her to court for breaching its power to grant exclusive broadcasting rights in Britain.

Murphy took her case to the European Court of Justice where the advocate general on Thursday recommended that the full panel rule in her favour, meaning European viewers could soon be legally allowed to by-pass UK broadcasters and watch matches on cheaper foreign channels.

The ECJ revealed in a press release: “European Union law does not make it possible to prohibit the live transmission of Premier League football matches in pubs by means of foreign decoder cards.”

While Juliane Kokott’s opinion is not legally binding, should the full panel of EU judges back Murphy later this year it could revolutionise the way the Premier League sells its broadcasting rights and cause a major headache for the UK’s current exclusive live Premier League broadcasters, Sky Sports and ESPN.

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