BBC BLOGS - David Bond
« Previous | Main | Next »

Pubs v Premier League

Post categories:

David Bond | 14:17 UK time, Monday, 3 October 2011

In the 19 years since the formation of the Premier League, the value of the competition's television rights has gone from £304m to a staggering £3.2bn.

It is one of the country's most successful exports and whenever Prime Minister David Cameron goes on trade missions abroad, as he did to Russia last month; he often takes chief executive Richard Scudamore with him as an example of a thriving British business.

And yet on Tuesday the European Court of Justice (ECJ) will deliver a ruling which could deal the League and its lucrative TV rights model a major blow.

Unlikely though it might seem, the case all centres on a Portsmouth pub - the Red, White and Blue - and its landlady, Karen Murphy. She was fined back in 2006 for showing her customers live Premier League matches accessed via a Greek service and illegal decoder.

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions

The Premier League states UK citizens should only be able to watch live matches through Sky and, to a lesser extent, ESPN. For pubs the cost of screening matches is high, making it attractive for them to look for cheaper alternatives.

Mrs Murphy appealed against the decision saying that the European Union's laws on the free movement of trade and services inside the single market meant she should be entitled to buy her live football from any European country she should choose.

In March, a non-binding opinion from the ECJ's advocate general Juliane Kokot seemed to back her argument. Kokot stated that broadcasters cannot stop customers using cheaper foreign satellite TV services.

There is no guarantee that the court will follow that opinion tomorrow. But even senior Premier League sources admit it is unlikely that it will go against it.

So what does this potentially mean to the League and Sky, whose business model is so reliant on live top flight football?

The first thing to say is that tomorrow's decision is unlikely to be clear cut. Although the Kokot advice was interpreted as a potential setback for the League's case, the League argues it was much more complicated than that.

And even if the court delivers a clear judgment, it is only guidance for the UK High Court, which must then decide whether to rubber stamp its findings.

The next point to make is that the impact on the League's rights in Europe is likely to be negligible. Of the £1.4bn it earns from selling its rights abroad, just £130m, less than 10 per cent, comes from Europe.

The big problem is a free for all in the UK market could seriously damage Sky's exclusivity for which it pays £1.8bn over the three years 2010-2013. Why would Sky continue to pay that money - money which underpins clubs' vast spending on players' wages and salaries every year - if foreign broadcasters are given the freedom to undercut them.

In response to such a verdict Sky might feel the need to lower their prices and therefore pay less to the League for its rights. That could have a massive knock-on effect on clubs who are already stretched.

However the League and its principal adviser on TV rights David Kogan have become adept at hurdling obstacles put in their path by regulators.

In the event of a ruling which backs Mrs Murphy's appeal, the League is likely to create one Europe-wide live TV rights package which Sky or another pan-European broadcaster could buy for the same sort of money Sky currently pay, if not more. They could then either show it on the continent themselves or sub licence to foreign TV companies.

The League, which wants to start its latest auction for the 2013-2016 package before the end of the season, is therefore confident that whatever the outcome tomorrow, its business model will continue to thrive.

But the impact on smaller sports could be significant as the markets for their rights will shrink. And the effect on other creative sectors like the film industry, which also sells exclusive content territory by territory, could be devastating.

Looking a bit further ahead the much bigger danger for football, indeed all sports, is the rapid blurring of the lines between distribution and access to live sport.

Rights holders used to be able to sell rights platform by platform - TV, radio, online, mobile and so on. But it's already difficult to tell the difference between a traditional TV and an iPad.

That will only become more blurred in the future and in response it has become necessary for rights holders to develop time sensitive packages with media companies now bidding for live, near live, highlights and archive rights.

For the Premier League and other big rights holders protecting those in the face of illegal streaming of matches from pirate websites is a far bigger threat than the ECJ's ruling tomorrow.

1130 UPDATE:

On the face of it, Tuesday's ruling from the European Court of Justice appears to be a defeat for the Premier League and the way it sells its television rights.

The judgment states quite clearly it is against EU law to sell Premier League matches on a country-by-country basis and - and this is a critical - to prohibit viewers from watching cheaper foreign broadcasts through the use of a decoder card.

In very simple terms, that means that the League's existing approach to selling rights in the EU will have to change. It also potentially threatens the League's rights deals with Sky and ESPN in the UK - worth £600m a year - because the court seems to be saying that it is OK to use decoders to access foreign broadcasts of live matches.

But this is not a straightforward ruling. As Karen Murphy and her lawyer were claiming victory, so the League was saying it had won.

In particular, the League points to a part of the EU judgment that acknowledges that showing matches in pubs is a public event. This was not part of the advocate general's opinion back in February.

Again, this seems to me to be open to interpretation.

While live sport cannot be protected under copyright law, other parts of the broadcast, such as graphics, music and highlights of other matches, are protected. So as long as the League incorporates elements like this into their live broadcasts, then pubs will need to seek the League's permission to show foreign broadcasts.

It is a deeply confusing picture and it is now up to the High Court to interpret this European judgment.

But even if it does mean a big re-think for the Premier League, it is likely to get around any threat to its business model by selling one European-wide set of rights ensuring its vital TV income is protected.

Comments

Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    Football finances have been spiralling out of control for years. Maybe this could be the ruling needed to make clubs and the league think about how they are running their business (though I doubt it).

  • Comment number 2.

    If this action stops people from selling something solely to the UK with a smalled added something but allows the end product to be as cheap as the EU mainland or the US then I'll be very, very happy indeed - however I fear that the TV companies instead of downshifting will make everything as expensive as the UK knowing that people still want the product.

  • Comment number 3.

    Oh no, less money in the PL means the 2 or 3 top clubs won't be able to afford the Tevez's of the world. Oh dear, how sad, never mind.

  • Comment number 4.

    As someone who works in a pub in the wigan area i think its brilliant that someone is standing up to the money men at sky. You cant pick and choose which european laws you want to keep to suit sky. Football clubs are worried as 90% are reliant on the sky money. Maybe this ruling will be the first step towards a football salary cap where clubs can only spend a certain percentage on players wages. This can only serve to protect the smaller clubs from spending above their means to achieve a short term success while rewarding those with good marketing and innovative ideas of how to make money.

  • Comment number 5.

    From previous readings of EU court decisions, it may be optimistic to suggest that the position will be clarified ...

    However, if it means that I can have cheaper films on Sky, I'm all for it!

  • Comment number 6.

    This won't affect the clubs at all......so now Sky will have the rights for the whole of the EU and then they will either broadcast it themselves to the rest of the EU on a country by country basis at various prices or license it out. They could have decoders that detect which country you are in and charge you accordingly....in the UK, well you pay a lot, in Greece still pay a lot relatively as you got no money but in absolute terms it's less, etc, etc. Just means that small TV stations in minor countries in the EU will be screwed as they won't have the games themselves or have to pay Sky.

  • Comment number 7.

    Oh no, less money in the PL means the 2 or 3 top clubs won't be able to afford the Tevez's of the world. Oh dear, how sad, never mind.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    It might also mean that anyone other than the top clubs won't be able to pay their players and will go bust.

  • Comment number 8.

    In a more clear way, it just means that these big companies like Sky will now have major markets for the whole of the EU instead of just individual countries. The film companies will do the same and so on. People in Luxembourg, Portugal, etc, will end up having to buy Sky decoders to see stuff. If anything, this law is saying it is cool for Sky (or any broadcaster) to go outside of it's more traditional boundaries and treat the whole of the EU as one country and it is illegal to split up the EU into individual markets. Small TV stations will be screwed. Either that or the High Court overrules as do other countries courts then it stay as it is.

  • Comment number 9.

    'Barney McGrew'

    Unfortunate though it is less TV money would just make the gap wider. Manchester City and Chelsea have owners who plough money in to the club and would continue to do so regardless of any TV rights deal. The chasing pack would suffer as sides like Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham and even Manchester United all have to attempt to balance the books.

    Obviously the if there was less TV money and the UEFA fair play rules were properly enforced then there would be a levelling of the playing field but as Michel Platini has stated he is 'scared to fully enforce the rules' this wil not happen.

  • Comment number 10.

    Great news for the PL i'd say, all those EU broadcasters that could show football in England will now have too pay the market rate, not for showing football in Greece, but the price for Greece and the EU as a whole !
    If i was the PL i'd be cancelling contracts after this decision and pricing there packages for the EU accordingly, this could make the Sky money look like small beer, or, only the biggest broadcasters can afford EU rights and even fewer companies can afford it!
    The EU strikes again, well done idiots.

  • Comment number 11.

    Obviously the if there was less TV money and the UEFA fair play rules were properly enforced then there would be a levelling of the playing field but as Michel Platini has stated he is 'scared to fully enforce the rules' this wil not happen.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    How exactly will the fair play rules bring 'a levelling of the playing field'? Big clubs have more fans, attract bigger sponsorship deals and will simply be light years ahead of everyone else hence the status quo is kept.

  • Comment number 12.

    Could be a good thing if Sky reduce the amount of money they give. Will force clubs to decrease the ridiculous salaries and transfer fees. If they don't, then it's their own fault if they go bust.
    Also I'm up for free to air (or cheaper) football!

  • Comment number 13.

    I'm not clear how you think Sky are going to get around this. If they have one package for the whole of Europe they will have to charge everyone the same price, otherwise they will be straight back in court. Also what about European competition rules ? they tend to be a bit more zealous about enforcing them than the UK.

  • Comment number 14.

    I don't know how this will ultimately change football, though if it means the whole industry is forced into a reality check, then it has to be positive. My club has spent as much as anyone recently but when i thought we had no money at the end of last season, and were going to play genuinely home grown youngsters (not plucked from other successful academies) i was as excited as i am about our £50million+ strike force - call me old fashioned. Football currently operates as a polar opposite to our finances as fans (notable exceptions such as QPR's recent reduction of ticket prices, possible a prophetic move based on the result at Fulham), and i welcome the possibility of ALL clubs having to work far harder to produce great teams, with players who love the game, and genuinely reflect how much we would all like to take their place.

    Added to which if it means Sky can't afford to pay G.Nev this will make me happier still.

    PS. well done to Mrs. Muphy for supporting the ailing Greek economy...you were ahead of your time!

  • Comment number 15.

    In response to Mr Mcgre (he did it,apparently), it will not just affect the top clubs. As with all things financial, it will be the small clubs that will suffer.

  • Comment number 16.

    Sky have too much control in the UK
    They are also having their Movies rights looked into by the Competitions Commission plus they may also have this too be investigated soon also http://www.petition.co.uk/investigation-into-the-legality-of-the-recent-bbcsky-f1-deal/

  • Comment number 17.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 18.

    A simpler solution for SKY would be to introduce a pay as you watch match choice at 3pm on a Saturday. Pubs buy their package and most of the showings tend to be the 3pm games which no one apart from the foreign countries have access to. If SKY decided to charge a nominal fee for SKY Sports customers (lets call it £2 per game) then if only 500,000 chose to do it that and extra £1m per Saturday they will bring in. However SKY need to have fairer prices for pubs and clubs etc.

  • Comment number 19.

    Compared to the enormous damage they have caused to fooball and society SKY and the PL have done little good but the answer is in our own hands. If everyone stopped their SKY subscription, which is costing some people £3k pa which is dwarfed by the £35k pa they charge pubs, they would fold in no time, we could have our game back and society could regain it's perspective so PL footballers, who just kick a football, wouldn't be paid more in a week than a consultant surgeon, who could save the life of you or a loved one, earn in a year.

  • Comment number 20.

    Exclusivity and monopolies are the enemies of capitalism which rely on competition to produce the best deals for everyone.

    People should be able to watch and/every match they want not the ones chosen by the tv executives who almost always support the big teams or at least need to do so to make the biggest profit in advertisements. Currently only in England is this not possible and so we have the frankly laughable situation of programmes of former footballers watching the games live and telling you what happens! That is ridiculous. Time to take the national game back to the people of this country!

  • Comment number 21.

    People should be able to watch and/every match they want not the ones chosen by the tv executives who almost always support the big teams or at least need to do so to make the biggest profit in advertisements. Currently only in England is this not possible and so we have the frankly laughable situation of programmes of former footballers watching the games live and telling you what happens!

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------

    So would you prefer a deal like in Spain, where two clubs take 85% of the tv money and the rest share 15% between them?

  • Comment number 22.

    The English Premier League is one of the UK's most successful exports.
    It originates from the UK. Yet football fans in the UK are made to pay more than fans in Europe to watch the League games? UNFAIR!!! Whatever happened to the old adage: Charity begins at home?

    "The Premier League states UK citizens should only be able to watch live matches through Sky and, to a lesser extent, ESPN."
    A self serving stipulation aimed at protecting the selfish interests of the big media companies. Rather naive of them to imagine these exclusivity clauses would last ad infinitum. In free market societies, they never do, sooner or later they are bound to be challenged.

    Did the Premier League and its cohorts (SKY and ESPN) forget that the EU is one common market with freedom of movement of people, goods and services?

    I support the pub landlady, and I hope the courts rule in her favour. Nobody has the right to tell us where to buy live football. It is our prerogative to decide that.

    If Karen Murphy's victory will turn EPL clubs' finances on their heads and force them to pull back from the current trend of kamikaze spending, the better.

    Long live the free market!

  • Comment number 23.

    Football, money, Sky, blah blah. The sooner the whole thing goes bust the better.

  • Comment number 24.

    Its all very interesting but why the argument in the first place. If everyone just boycotted Sky we would still have sport accessible to all. Although to call it sport any longer is probably a misnomer, can anyone remember the last act of sportsmanship by a premiership footballer, I somehow doubt it. As long as people who can barely afford it continue to pour money into the Sky coffers nothing will ever improve.

  • Comment number 25.

    So this means SKY and overpaid premier league footballers will earn a little bit less money. Is there bad news in this story anywhere?

  • Comment number 26.

    I support the pub landlady, and I hope the courts rule in her favour. Nobody has the right to tell us where to buy live football. It is our prerogative to decide that.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Exactly, and in the short term it could possibly lead to cheaper viewing. It will almost certainly only last until the next tv package is negotiated though, when if the ruling goes against the Premier League they'll simply stop selling the rights to individual countries.

  • Comment number 27.

    Its about time SKY were brought down a bit particularly with a Murdoch as CEO and News Int owning a significant percentage. Why dont the Premier League have their
    own channel..surely this makes a lot of sense..headhunt a few SKY people etc..its the way SKY do business! Freesat is better technically anyway.more reliable.

  • Comment number 28.

    I see this whole thing as double standard by the BBC. We have all provided our views about the before with regards to issues such as the World Cup/Panorama and the BBC giving up the last year of their F1 rights, and most of our comments have been pulled by the moderators.

  • Comment number 29.

    Well, clubs are going to have live with new rules which mean they can't live beyond their incomes. If their income drops from the Sky dividend then at last costs will have to be cut.........transfer fees and wages might have to be reduced. Chairs/owners will not be allowed to simply top up a shortfall of club earnings by dipping into their own funds. The hour of realsim is fast approaching. This SKy case, whilst interesting is just a bit of background noise.

  • Comment number 30.

    Easy solution for all football fans: GET ORGANISED. If we boycott a few games and demand reasonable prices for watching them then the prices will come crashing down very quickly.

    Get organised and Carlos Tevez will stop earning 250,000 per WEEK.

    Get organised and football can go back to being a spectator sport run for the fans, with the fans interests at heart.

    Get organised and pubs won't have to take desperate illegal measures in order to stay competitive or else be forced to raise their own prices for drinks to pay the scandalous 35k a year in SKY pub licence fees. Just another way the fan is being bled dry to pay for some diving ponce's third Ferrari.

    Does it really mean the Premier League will be less competitive with less money? Or does it mean that more home-grown talent will get chances to play in the top league in the country? *Read: more chances for young England, Scotland and Wales players to become world class players for their country.*

    Notice that Netherlands got to the world cup final last year? What happened a few years ago? The fans boycotted some games and the pay-per-view system collapsed. Now all their games are affordable to watch and the teams invest much more wisely in youth and player development. What happened there? The fans got organised and took the power back.

    I shall now climb off my box and watch as the collective response to this is: "Meh..."

  • Comment number 31.

    And just too add about the article, I'm guessing Sky would win because she used an illegal decoder and because they pay their legal team far more

  • Comment number 32.

    @30.At 17:25 3rd Oct 2011, Alex Reborn wrote:
    Easy solution for all football fans: GET ORGANISED. If we boycott a few games and demand reasonable prices for watching them then the prices will come crashing down very quickly
    ==============================================================

    Excellent suggestion Sir! An idea with great potential for success. It reminds football fans that all the power lies with them.
    Great post!

  • Comment number 33.

    I personally don,t care about the rights and wrongs. What I do care about is anybody being able to watch premier league on the television on a Saturday at 3 PM. As a supporter of a small club who doesn't care what happens in the Premier League. I do worry what is happening to the smaller clubs who depend basically on gate receipts.

  • Comment number 34.

    slightly hypercritical of Sky, when you consider ex-pats can subscribe to sky channels in most European countries legally, so why should other countries services be blocked here,,,, you can check it out here. http://storesatellite.com/index.php

  • Comment number 35.

    Sky can only broadcast in the UK - they are tied to UK soil in terms of where they can legally broadcast. Only British embassies and some foreign based facilities e.g. some military bases & installations. I am relatively sure they will not be able to achieve the rights to broadcast in Europe as each country has its own broadcasting networks (some much larger than Sky).

    Naturally, if theres money in it (and not forgetting our EU 'representatives') im sure there will be a way around this...

    Regarding #30, spot on mate. I live in the Netherlands and the change was palpable. You get all of the Netherlands national games live on normal terrestrial TV, and Champions League / Eerste Divisie (Dutch PL) games on TV too, for free. It bothers me that we get none of that (or very little) back home...because the Dutch commentary does suck. The Dutch are a little more active in their society and politics than in the UK though, so while the power is well and truly in our hands to change things like they did, I'll await the outpouring of 'meh' from a safe vantage point :)

  • Comment number 36.

    I think this will just accelerate the formation of a European league with just the rich clubs getting into bed with a television broadcaster to sell exclusive rights and opting out of EUFA and FIFA control

  • Comment number 37.

    If they rule in the FA's favour - how long before it has an effect on the internet?

  • Comment number 38.

    Quite simple really. A couple of pints in the 1st half of a game,the same in the 2nd half,would come to about a tenner. How much is it in a football ground these days?.I'll be watchin it in the pub,intil the cost of a football ticket is drastically reduced.

  • Comment number 39.

    How quickly will this have an effect?
    Whilst Sky and the Premier League may no longer be able to stop people watching the games on overseas broadcasters, will it only have an impact on the football clubs' coffers when the current TV deals are up for renegotiation?

  • Comment number 40.

    The 3 o'clock rule is there to protect small clubs playing at that time. If Mrs Murphy wants to show cheaper matches at other times OK but not at 3 o'clock. I hope she loses for the sake of these small clubs.

  • Comment number 41.

    I hope the Premier League loses and the cost should be taken by players not fans or TV subscribers

    The Premier league wage bill for 2009-10 was 1.4bn, if every players wage was cut by half they would still be mega rich.

  • Comment number 42.

    I find it UNBELIEVABLE that almost all games are filmed yet only a select few are available on Sky and ESPN. How does not showing football games benefit the consumer? You should be able to see every single game on TV or on the red button every weekend. If they did that I'd pay for it. As it stands now people are obviously going to look elsewhere for games cheaper, or for games that arn't being shown!

  • Comment number 43.

    What people seem to be missing is the fact that Sky have been charging extortionate amounts for a license to show live sports in a Licensed public house. Only the big pub chains can afford these prices or have the clientelle to justify the price.
    Hopefully this ruling will mean the local pub can look for a broadcaster that suits there needs at a price they can afford.

  • Comment number 44.

    You all assume sky will prevail here. I would laugh if the likes of Canal+ came in and bought the entire PL package for the EU. Eurosport would be the best station on the box!

    And sky would collapse overnight

  • Comment number 45.

    Why should we feel sorry for "stretched" clubs?

    They are only stretched because they pay millions to over paid egotistical players.

    No person is worth multiple thousands per week just for being good at kicking a ball.

    EG is Tevez really worth £270,000 per week?

    That is the real problem with football, and cases such as this will hopefully rectify the problem.

    The only losers will be the overpaid players.

  • Comment number 46.

    I have always found it astonishing that a TV company can claim exclusive rights to anything. All broadcasters should be allowed to buy the rights for a fee and compete for viewers if they wish. The UK must be the only place on the planet where 'free competition' means someone like SKY being handed a monopoly. If all channels decided to broadcast live Premier League we would soon find out who did the best job. The rest could stick to reality shows.

  • Comment number 47.

    #13 Jod: Sky will get around it by getting the rights for the whole of Europe. They will then sub-licence the rights to different providers in different countries, who can charge what they like. Sky can then put a clause in the sub licence agreements to prevent the other providers selling to customers outside of the area that they have bought the licence for. Sky will almost certainly win the rights to the EU package as their entire business depends on it and they have tonnes of cash they dont know what to do with!

    #33 Phil & #40 rangerray: This rule was there originally to protect the clubs not being televised. Now that so many games are shown each weekend/monday (about 5) and others played on week nights I dont think it matters. I cant imagine someone deciding not to go and watch Brentford (my local club) for example on a Saturday at 3 because Man U are on telly. I think it has got to the point now where fans paying stupid money per year should at least be able to watch the games they want!

    #36 howes14: Great point, sadly I think you are right. But I suppose at least that might leave (whatever is left of) the league open to real clubs with real fans... god forbid we could get back to the stage where a club could do well without a Sheikh/Oligarch picking you as their favorite new toy?!

  • Comment number 48.

    i for one think that the monopoly that sky has on the football is wrong. football belongs to the people not the media moguls. and as SAF stated not two weeks ago, the tv companies have too much power, since when did the fixture list be sorted out by sky?? and i have been watching live premiership football on saturdays on foreign channels for many years, as the laws are different here in Guernsey than they are in the uk.....

  • Comment number 49.

    The law is the law and many of us have been laughing at Sky + Co by watching other streams of football. All perfectly legal within the European market.

    Sky can have my boot up their backside. As if there is not enough trouble witin the company, they are now trying to defy clear and simple law which a 3 year old could understand.

    Utterly laughable and their followers are to.

  • Comment number 50.

    I find it nothing short of disgraceful the way sky has monopolised live premier league broadcasting in this country and are basically free to charge what they want.
    There needs to be competition in every market.

  • Comment number 51.

    It is not clear as you have indicated that the pub landlady was using an "illegal" decoder. See this very well defined legal article reproduced below"

    "Is this illegal?

    It is clearly illegal for licensed premises to show matches at 3pm on a Saturday but the laws in relation to the decoder equipment is a little less clear cut.

    Breach of Copyright

    In relation to this that FA Premier League have argued that the use of this decoder equipment is in breach of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1998 which it states provides them with the right to charge for access to the content which it has its rights in.

    Illegal Decoder Equipment

    The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1998 and the European Commission Conditional Access Directive define illicit devices which is used to decode encrypted data which the use of is clearly illegal and infringes the rights that the FA Premier League has in the showing of their matches.

    Often however, problems arise when the equipment used has been purchased legitimately in another European Union Member State and then imported into that European Union Member State legitimately. The term illicit device contained with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act is argued to be limited to pirate or counterfeit decoders and therefore does not include decoders procured in this manner."

  • Comment number 52.

    I'm a simple lad. I just want to wtach footy on the telly. For nowt.

  • Comment number 53.

    Well let's think about this from both sides. Currently the Pl is the best league in the world and the games that are played and not shown on T.V is pathetic. Sky sports, Itv and BBC have enough money to broadcast all games if they wanted to but instead make everyone wait till 10:30 on a Saturday or Sunday night to watch Match of the day. England is the only country that does not show all games when played and they easily have enough resources to do so. for Example on the last day of the season the way sky sports show the games is very much similar to how the NFL show their games every week. not to mention the Video Technology they use as well. So from the other point of view is by not showing those games and waiting for them to be aired on T.V is well I can't think of any positive comments for that. I have never and will never pay for sky I have the basic package and I always stream the matches I want to watch. It's cheap easy and to be honest at least this way I never miss game'because it wasn't on T.V'.

  • Comment number 54.

    It's cheap easy and to be honest at least this way I never miss game'because it wasn't on T.V'.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    Ever thought of actually GOING to a game? I'm sure your local club could use the gate receipts.

  • Comment number 55.

    TV coverage is no different to any other product. If product X costs £10 when bought in the UK, £2 in Greece and is given away free in Italy, we should be able to buy it from wherever we want.

    If you subscribe to Sky, you are not "buying" the right to watch Premier League football, you are paying to be able to watch Sky's coverage of the sport. Sky may sell on their coverage to foreign broadcasters, but you should be free to buy the foreign service if you wish.

  • Comment number 56.

    Sky has been fleecing us for years. £30 a month to watch games and they don't even show the games that start at 3pm!! They won't even allow the BBC to store highlights on iplayer. If I wanted to get MUTV at a fiver a month, I have to wait until midnight at the very earliest to watch MUFC matchs. It's absurd quite frankly and the sooner their grip on football is relaxed the better.

    If the "super-rich" Greeks can offer prem games at such a low price then why can't Sky?

  • Comment number 57.

    The only thing I see the Pub Landlady as done wrong is that she upset PL and SKY :)

    The Decoder she has is LEGAL (not a SKY box)
    The CARD she uses in the Decoder is LEGAL (she pays for the subscription from the overseas broadcaster)

    She is not Pirating in any way, the Broadcaster has allowed her to subscribe to their sports channels (which show the 3pm games live) as they do not fall under the PL/SKY agreement for UK transmittion and they are allowed to broadcast LEGALLY.

    The only thing that COULD be wrong is whether the Broadcaster is ALLOWED to have UK subscribers? but considering we are all in the EU i cannot see how that could be banned.

  • Comment number 58.

    £30 a month to watch games and they don't even show the games that start at 3pm!! They won't even allow the BBC to store highlights on iplayer. If I wanted to get MUTV at a fiver a month, I have to wait until midnight at the very earliest to watch MUFC matchs. It's absurd quite frankly and the sooner their grip on football is relaxed the better.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    Sky have nothing to do with not showing 3pm kick-offs, it's there to protect the gate receipts of teams that rely on that money.

    Said like the classic arm-chair fan.

  • Comment number 59.

    In footballing terms this will just make a few players and agents slightly more realistic for a bit. That is all. As the comment says, broadcasters will find a way to charge more in a year or two. After all, their whole business model is based on it.

  • Comment number 60.

    A lot of people are quick to declare there will be less money. How do you figure that? I believe in his original blog on the matter Mr. Bond outlined how Sky's revenues might grow as a result of a ECJ decision favouring Mrs. Murphy, which would also translate into more money for the clubs.

  • Comment number 61.

    Just a thought but surely Sky could build a case around reducing their pricing and increasing the customer base... they would be able to charge more to their advertisers for the additional eyeballs. So instead of killing many sports as mass spectator events (county cricket, boxing etc) they could actually promote them instead.

  • Comment number 62.

    Well perhaps we should just go back to how it was before sky came along and ruined football. The exclusivity is the main problem, if sky as an entity had to lower what they charge that could only be good for the consumer, who pays more and more year on year for the same ridiculously biased broadcasting. Perhaps in the interests of fair competition they should split it more, not just to espn (another pay per view option!) but some should go back to the terrestrial channels so the whole country get a chance to see it!
    It's sky and their money that has made football the sad thing it is today! I don't think it's better, it's just more expensive to watch and full of nancies that fall like leaves in autumn when ever they are given the slightest nudge! Because players are no longer players, they are assets! And that is where the whole ridiculous nature of our refereeing now gets it's ideas on what is and isn't a foul! All the leagues operated just fine and with a decent level of parity before murdoch came along, when live matches were shown for all to see on terrestrial tv, and players played for the team, they understood loyalty, and earned there wages, contract renewals and place in the team, they were not the overpaid over demanding prima donnas we see today! Which aren't a patch on the players in who's footsteps they ATTEMPT to walk.

  • Comment number 63.

    The small point at the end is all the money, excuse the pun. Sky and the EPL are caught between a rock and a hard place: They either need to make the packages cheaper and more accessible or charge the same prices to all the countries and lose all these markets because the TV stations cannot afford it. If the latter happens then illegal live streaming will be prevalent so the EPL will lose the money anyway.

  • Comment number 64.

    "But even if the court ruling goes against the League it wouldn't necessarily mean less money for clubs. The League would probably just bundle all the European rights together and sell their 380 live games to one pan-continental broadcaster for a higher price.

    At the moment European countries pay just £200m for live Premier League rights - mainly because most of the mature TV markets in Europe also have strong and popular domestic leagues." - From the February blog

  • Comment number 65.

    This would only be bad news for English football.

    Clubs like Man United will be fine. It will be the smaller clubs that will suffer. Too many people just look at the likes of Man City spending but forget it helps the small clubs too.

    Money in football isn't ruining any club. People who can't run clubs properly are the problem.

    If this case does go through, club attendances will drop. Why pay £30/ £40 when you can watch it in the pub for nothing?

    When attendances fall, clubs will raise price again.

    No doubt if this deal goes through then the next Premier League deal will be sold European wide and a Sky/ Disney consortium will buy them up and sub-contract them out.

  • Comment number 66.

    What about British Ex Pats who own 2.4 metre satelite dishes all over Europe to enable them to watch all UK television. What does the premier league state that they should be able to watch? Sky make a huge sum of money from ex pats in Europe, which takes away business from the satelite companies who operate in those countries. Do Sky care about that?

  • Comment number 67.

    The last time something about Premier League deals went to Europe, the rights ended up split and everyone ending up paying more - you pay for Sky and then have to pay for Setanta/ ESPN for the rest.

    What the EU should have done there is insist that one game a week be free-to-view, like the Champions League and NFL in the UK, that way ITV or the BBC could have brought a package or Sky could have kept all live games but would have had to show one game on a free platform. Last weeks free weekend shown the technology is there.

    No doubt, if Mrs Murphy gets her wish, to play havoc with 3pm attendances (note that big clubs rarely kick off at 3pm so this would affect smaller clubs), then it will be the fans who end up paying more. This will start with ticket prices.

    People who thinks this is a good thing don't understand how business works.

  • Comment number 68.

    People who thinks this is a good thing don't understand how business works.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    This is it. I'm all for cheaper football (both my season ticket and televised game in an ideal world!) but I can't help but feel that we all might actually end up worse off when the decisions made.

  • Comment number 69.

    If Sky don't get their money from the Pubs it will be the home viewer that has to pay. They do, after all, have a bit of a monopoly on Sports.

  • Comment number 70.

    I am so thnkful I played and watched football when it was not only 'the beautiful game' but also 'the simple game'.

    The advent of SKY, Richard Murdoch and the greed of the 'money men' have reduced the sport to the lowest of levels for the anyone over the age of 40 who remebers what the agme was once all about.

    Grossly overpaid, primadona players, inflated egos, cheating and simulation, ever-increasing ticket prices, total disregard of the fans' wishes, policies that are only focused on sheer profit and the bottom-line.

    Personally I hope the ruling means the end of football as we now know it, the end of it being rammed down our throat warts and all, in the never ending quest for more and more money. Then maybe common sense will prevail and the game can return to what it once was.

    But I am holding out very little hope for that to happen.

  • Comment number 71.

    Premiership football = Sub-Prime housing market in the USA...unsustainable and we all know it.

    Tomorrows ruling could lead to the re-structuring of football and a sense of reality in a very surreal world.

  • Comment number 72.

    I really hope she wins tomorrow, because two years is plenty of time to see Sky crashing. I hope all pubs and homes would leave Sky, picking up the cheaper broadcasts instead. Sky would still have to pay the money to the Premier League but have next to no income.

    It is pure bliss! Murdoch's empire on fire?! I hope so!

  • Comment number 73.

    The PL is reliant on the getting their matches on Sky. Not just because of the money that Sky pays for broadcast rights but because being on the telly attracts a lot of other added value revenue from sponsors, advertisers etc. It's a pity that football doesn't have to do what many other sports do in order to tap in to this extra revenue. Golf for example, through the PGA had paid out millions to broadcasters to showcase their sport, as indeed have many other sports too. It's not that footballers can't afford to pay it through their union is it?

  • Comment number 74.

    Sky would still have to pay the money to the Premier League but have next to no income.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    This is it though, Sky wouldn't have to pay from what I understand although I could be wrong. I understand Sky have paid for 'exclusive' rights to show football in this country. If it's no longer exclusive, they should be able to renegotiate the rights since their original deal is no longer valid. I fear that A: we'll all end up paying more in the long run and B: clubs relying on that tv money i.e. clubs with a small fanbase will struggle even more.

  • Comment number 75.

    I own a really small pub in my local village...Sky want me to pay £1000 (yes one thousand!) per month to have the same package that it costs me £65 per month to have at home... I have absolutely no chance of re-couping that kind of revenue from folk coming into my pub to watch football... It's a joke.. were all struggling to pay these huge amounts so that these players can earn upto £200k a week.... I hope the whole cartel comes crashing down!!

  • Comment number 76.

    In you article you state that the verdict is a guidence to the High court . The High court found for the defendents and sent it to Europe to endorse that Lord Kitchen had got it right. The verdict is on a criminal case Karen Murphy and a cival case known as the Madden six both represented by QC Howe god bless him who with the solicitors fought the little mans corner on a no win no fee. Without them the fapl would have won as they had bigger pockets

  • Comment number 77.

    perhaps now we can have a level playing field for the top league in football?
    about time that sky's dominance came to an end, its the people's game, not corporate business'

  • Comment number 78.

    This issue works both ways, I live in Spain where approx 800,000 brits are living many with Sky Boxes they shouldn't have, shipped out by "grey economy" specialist companies serving this market. With ex-pats in France, Italy and elsewhere substantial numbers of sky subscribers living outside of the UK and in effect Sky are breaching the broadcasting rights they have bought for exclusive UK rights. Hard to believe that Sky is unaware that this going on and even if they are ignorance is no defence.

  • Comment number 79.

    It is ridiculous that we cannot watch a live football match in this country at 3pm on a Saturday due to some archaic rule made by the pools companies about 40 yrs ago
    You can be in any other county in the world and are spoilt for choice over which match to watch
    crazy

  • Comment number 80.

    As long as we get good coverage of the best players in the world plying their trade in England then i dont care and who ever listens to the fans anyway.

  • Comment number 81.

    @ 21:35 3rd Oct 2011, colin brighton.

    It is guidance. The case is reliant on pieces of EU law which Lord Kitchen has interpreted. The UK court has applied to the European Court for guidance on the interpretation. The European Court do not rule on the case, they simply give guidance. That guidance will be taken back to the English courts where they can rule on the findings. In theory the UK courts don't even have to take in to account what the findings are if it doesn't want to.

    So you see it is a reference to the European court under S267 of the Treaty of the EU asking for an interpretation not a ruling and such the article is correct.

  • Comment number 82.

    It is ridiculous that we cannot watch a live football match in this country at 3pm on a Saturday due to some archaic rule made by the pools companies about 40 yrs ago

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Again, it's to help protect the gate receipts of clubs that rely on them to stay afloat. Instead of bitching about not getting every game screened to your armchair, go and watch your local team. I'm sure they could use the money.

  • Comment number 83.

    The comments regarding player wage bills are fair, but city have money to burn and the return on TV licensing will not make any difference to their spending power. It will affect the smaller teams a lot more. Anyway, it will be months before anything happens, maybe years, because it has to go through the English courts again.

  • Comment number 84.

    Players believe, with some justification, that a business making a fortune from their input should reward them appropriately for their contribution. Surely if the income generation is reduced the value of their reward reduces with it. They will find that their share is less than it used to be. That's the way the cookie crumbles, either take what can be afforded or push off somewhere else. Other leagues already seem to pay less which is why they come here. The value of football dropping in one league will almost certainly have a downward effect on the other leagues. After all they currently benefit from the PL's silly transfer fees and wages and they would lose that contribution in any shake up so they would have less to spend. Look at what has happened to the lower divisions in the football league since the PL stopped doing most of it's business there.
    One final thought. If the current system wanted to challenge the illegal broadcasts then sell TV season tickets directly to the fans of each individual team. I would certainly pay for first quality live TV access to my own teams games. The games are out there to watch so why not accept the marketing challenge instead of bleating like the film and music industry have done.

  • Comment number 85.

    How much do you feel for all the players that were running down their contracts now? Pay rise......bigger club.... no chance

  • Comment number 86.

    Isn't this case based on pub/licensed premises broadcasting live football via an illegal decoding box? Essentially the landladies argument is that she shouldn't have to pay X thousand pounds to sky for a public viewing licence when similar is available in Europe for less.
    Its presumable, therefore, to surmise that the ruling will revolve around lowering the cost of what pubs, clubs, bars, etc. would have to pay for a licence to broadcast skysports in their premises - or alternatively increasing it throughout Europe.
    Ofcom recently regulated sky and made them lower the cost of selling sports to BT, Virgin, etc. for domestic customers. I'd very much doubt that this ruling will have any effect on what the man on the street pays for his sky tv subscription. If anything it will/could/should make it more reasonable for landlords to have an official sky broadcast coming from their tv's...but first many of these will have to have the official broadcasting in place and not using pirated/illegal equipment.

  • Comment number 87.

    If the current system wanted to challenge the illegal broadcasts then sell TV season tickets directly to the fans of each individual team. I would certainly pay for first quality live TV access to my own teams games.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    And therefore keep Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham etc top of the tree forever more. When 100 million pay to watch United's games and 8000 pay for Wigan's or Blackburn's, what will that do to competition?

    If you're willing to do that, why not just get a season ticket?

  • Comment number 88.

    Cant we just ban tellies from pubs. That would solve it completely.

  • Comment number 89.

    Sky have never shown any compassion my father fought in the war can not watch England play football away and for some years at all, why did he risk is life for and why did all those poor souls die for viva brussels

  • Comment number 90.

    Just ban pubs. Nobody goes to them anymore anyway...

  • Comment number 91.

    #89 'why did he risk is life for and why did all those poor souls die'

    Hopefully something a little more important than which station the footy was on actually.... Mind you, from your English, which country was it your father fought for? Somebody on our side I hope!

  • Comment number 92.

    With a £3.2b market to fight for do you really think Murdoch will employ pub solicitors? Maybe his legal team will get £200k per week....

  • Comment number 93.

    David,

    An interesting subject; thanks for the analysis. There's one part I'm not so sure on, however.

    You say "the impact on smaller sports could be significant as the markets for their rights will shrink". Firstly, I would've thought it would only practically affect those sports where the rights market is vastly (the cynic might say unsustainably) inflated - and arguably not the "smaller" sports after all.

    How much, for instance, do live Speedway rights cost? Is it really so much that this ruling could open the sport up to suffering substantial losses? Does that not first require it to be available from the continent significantly cheaper (which it probably isn't)? And where else in the European market would supply (and, indeed, demand) the likes of domestic cricket finals? I'm not sure you've explained the theory behind this bit too clearly. Or you have (somewhere), and I'm being a bit slow to spot it.

    If the Premier League were to suffer greatly from this ruling and had to repackage its TV rights, would that have much effect on the maintenance of or market for the new FAWSL that started this summer? I doubt it.

    The other thing I'd point out is that football stands apart from all other sports (rugby probably excepted) as being a watch-down-the-pub event. I'm not certain the likes of the AELTC will be too bothered how many Portsmouth landladies are screening Wimbledon through a dodgy box each summer - so this ruling may be unlikely to practically affect their media rights strategy as much as it could for Scudamore and friends.

  • Comment number 94.

    To all of you looking to watch live football at 3pm on a saturday, there are loads of lower league and non-league clubs that would be willing to accomodate you at their grounds for a lot less than sky charge to watch the same teams week in week out, with rubbish commentary and no atmosphere.

  • Comment number 95.

    I think at the end of the day you have to look at these things and ask yourself the following questions:

    Firstly, why is the UK coverage of the EPL so poor compared to the rest of the world?
    Secondly, why do we pay more for this worse coverage?

    I think the first point is more important than the second, simply because if the first weren't true, the second wouldn't matter so much.

    But the facts are there, week in, week out. In England, we get 3-4 live matches per week from the EPL, and 1-2 from the championship. Some weeks it is even less, and add this to the fact that if we want to see the single game on ESPN it's extra money per month.
    But I don't understand why. Why do we not have all games live, ánd just have to choose between games? Considering we have video coverage for things like the football league show and match of the day, all are being recorded. This is what seems so ridiculous to me.

    Compare this to NFL which is an american sport and isn't big in our country.. we get 2 live games on sky, 1 live game on espn, and 1 live game on terrestrial tv, and im sure that is only because they are all played at the same time, considering you can use the red button and go to redzone and see live and pseudolive highlights as they happen. I realise with our football it is a bit more difficult, but I'm really struggling to understand why our coverage of our nations biggest sport is so poor, and yet we pay so much for it..

  • Comment number 96.

    To all of you looking to watch live football at 3pm on a saturday, there are loads of lower league and non-league clubs that would be willing to accomodate you at their grounds for a lot less than sky charge to watch the same teams week in week out, with rubbish commentary and no atmosphere.

    ---------------------------------------------------------

    Exactly what i've been saying. Typical armchair idiots.

  • Comment number 97.

    91
    sorry you think my English is so poor, it's perfect in my head work that one out.
    However the fact that he and us made contributions to this nation that i hope you haven't or do not have to make.
    You sadden and your not even a heaton boy to

  • Comment number 98.

    As a licensee and football fan I have been watching this case for a long time, and I'm hoping that the ECJ will rule in favour of Karen Murphy. A lot of folks have already made good points about what effect such a ruling will have on the amount of money that football is currently awash in, but thus far nobody has remembered that Sky are also attempting to increase their domestic audience.

    The cost of showing Sky in a pub is based on the rateable value of the premises - that is, what the pub company thinks the business is worth. But I won't go into the arguments about how that's calculated in this post. Say for example that #19 originalkoppite's £35k p.a. figure is the average cost for a pub. There are some 60,000 pubs in the UK, and if 20,000 of them show Sky then Sky earns about £700m from them in a year. A quick look at Sky's website tells me that I can get Sky's Sports package for £40 per month with phone and broadband, etc. If I remember correctly, Sky passed the 10m mark in domestic subscriptions earlier this year. If one third of those domestic subscribers watches Sky Sports at home, Sky earns nearly £1.6 billion from them in a year. By increasing the cost of showing live sport in pubs, Sky makes more money from the pubs who are then forced to pass on the costs to their customers, increasing the chance that they'll watch it at home instead, where Sky can make even more money. It's win/win for Sky, and lose/lose for consumers.

  • Comment number 99.

    USUALLY I'M AGAINST EUROPEAN LAWS BECAUSE ITS ALWAYS FLAWED ...
    ... but if that means, that those big clubs can't spend 100 or 200 or more millions of pounds for those special players and those sickening up to 200.000 pound weekly or more and if that means, those ticket price would fall, so that younger people and students and normal families can get cheaper tickets, so be it x

  • Comment number 100.

    Sky have nothing to do with not showing 3pm kick-offs, it's there to protect the gate receipts of teams that rely on that money.

    Said like the classic arm-chair fan.

    -------------------------------------------

    Ummmm lol Yes I know but that was not my point was it? Read it again. My point is £30 a month for anything less than every game is fleecing the subscriber. The reasons why are irrelevant.

    While we're on it, I go to plenty of lower league and prem games. I certainly would not miss out on a day out with my mates at Watford just because United are playing Stoke and neither would anyone I know.

 

Page 1 of 3

BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.