The Premier League has strongly criticised legal advice from the European Union’s advocate general which could allow pubs across the UK to screen matches using ‘illegal’ satellite transmitters.
According to a Sports Industry Group report, the European Union’s advocate general ruled that a Portsmouth pub owner was entitled to show Premier League games decoded from a Greek satellite signal.
The Premier League currently benefits from huge, exclusive rights deals from Sky and ESPN and says that the advice could ‘damage the interests of broadcasters and viewers of Premier League football across the EU.’
The current ruling means that pubs have to pay a monthly fee of around £700 to broadcast games – but if the advice from advocate general Juliane Kokott’s is upheld – pubs could broadcast from a foreign satellite from around £44.
Sky has pumped billions of pounds into Premier League football and receives around £200m a year back from pubs screening its games – but it has been suggested that, if the ruling goes through, around £70m of that would be lost.
Kokott argued that the EU single market should let pubs use any European provider but the Premier League has hit back saying: ‘The European Court of Justice is there to enforce the law, not change it.’
‘If her (Kokott’s) opinion were to be reflected in the ECJ’s judgment, it would prevent rights holders across Europe from marketing their rights in a way which meets demand from broadcasters whose clear preference is to acquire, and pay for, exclusive rights within their own territory only and to use those rights to create services which satisfy the cultural preferences of their viewers within that territory,’ the Premier League said in a statement.