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Football not facing TV doomsday

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David Bond | 20:58 UK time, Thursday, 3 February 2011


I have been sent an interesting note this morning from an analyst at Citigroup, which argues the advice from the European Court's advocate general yesterday could be very good news for Sky.

By effectively outlawing territorial exclusivity and opening up the market in each European country to competition from cheaper foreign providers, the amount Sky would have to pay for UK rights would fall.

That's bad for football and the Premier League but Citigroup says there's potentially another upside for Rupert Murdoch and Sky.

By scrapping country-by-country deals, the likely effect is that the Premier League would then sell their rights in one pan-European deal. That would play into the hands of Sky, which is one of only a handful of broadcasters big enough across Europe to take advantage of such a deal.

Sky, the note adds, has been arguing for a pan-European pay-TV platform for some time so, once again, the Premier League could play a central part in the expansion of Murdoch's media empire.


Thursday's opinion from the advocate general of the European Court of Justice is not a doomsday moment for the Premier League.

But it was clearly a wake-up call which, if backed up by a ruling by judges later this year, threatens the way the richest league in the world currently markets its TV rights.

To briefly recap - a Portsmouth landlady called Karen Murphy has been contesting the League's crackdown on pubs who pay an annual subscription fee charged by Sky to televise live matches.

The League barred her from showing games broadcast via Greek satellite provider Nova for breach of copyright but she fought back, taking her case through the European courts.

And on Thursday, the advocate general of the ECJ, Juliane Kokott, weighed in on her side saying that, in her opinion, the way the League sold its rights on a territorial, country by country basis was incompatible with the internal market.

Or put another way, why should an English football fan be forced to buy his live English Premier League football from an English pay TV operator? Why not let the fan buy their games in from Greece, France or anywhere else in Europe if they fancied.

If Kokott's opinion is backed up by the judges from the European Court of Justice then that could have huge implications for the League's lucrative business model and potentially the timings of games.

If broadcasters like Sky lost their territorial exclusivity because of competition from European rivals then that could reduce the value of the exclusive deals Sky and ESPN have for live matches, currently worth almost £2billion over three years.

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.

It is Asia and the United States where the Premier League makes the vast majority of the £1.2bn it has negotiated as part of the current three-year overseas deal.

There is another potential impact and that's on the scheduling of games.

The League currently sells only 138 of its 380 live games per season to Sky and ESPN because it tries to restrict disruption to the traditional 3pm Saturday kick-offs. The fear is more televised games shown at 3pm would impact on attendances at clubs across the Premier and Football Leagues.

But all 380 of the League's live games are already sold to overseas broadcasters and if all matches, including those at 3pm on a Saturday, are allowed to be shown in the UK, then a tradition already under threat is likely to be damaged further.

Before the League's chief executive Richard Scudamore calls for the lawyers, it is worth remembering he has been here many times before over the last 12 years, and each time there has been a European challenge, the League seems to come up with a new plan for increasing revenue.

It is also worth noting that overseas TV rights are the growth area for the League and the top clubs, not domestic rights which have remained pretty steady for the last 10 years. It is Asia where the big money can be made.

Indeed, a bigger threat to the TV rights than overseas competition could come from illegal internet streaming, which is far harder to police.

So Thursday's European intervention is undoubtedly a potential setback for the League but, with a final decision potentially months if not years away, there is no need to start talking about football's age of austerity just yet.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Anything that makes it cheaper to see the matches on Sky/ESPN is good for me.

  • Comment number 2.

    1. Yeah i agree if it makes football cheaper then im all for it

  • Comment number 3.

    As a Barnet fan I am disappointed this is allowed to happen. Many people, if had the choice, would rather watch Tottenham or Arsenal on a foreign channel in a pub than come to a Barnet game if it was on at the same time. This undermines all local teams that are in a similar vicinity to Premier League teams.

    I thought that the reason Sky and ESPN were not allowed to show games on television at 3pm on a Saturday is so local fans can go and watch their local teams without any competition from Premier League football on television at the same time.

  • Comment number 4.

    anything that reduces the end cost to the consumer will have my a far as Sky and ESPN are concerened they will just have to deal with it ! If the balance of Power shifts away from Sky and Co when a definative ruling is made then victory will be the consumers.....long live freedom and choice !

  • Comment number 5.

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

  • Comment number 6.

    Having to pay £50 to watch your own country's football is appalling. If there is another way to do it for £25 or less I would sign up immediately.

    Sky has brought this on themselves

  • Comment number 7.

    Neither Sky nor ESPN or any other pay TV station should have the rights to the Premier League anyway, it should be reserved for terrestrial TV only.

  • Comment number 8.

    If Sky and the EPL had not been so greedy then maybe this would not be such an issue. Charging small pubs £700 a month so that they can screen one game at lunchtime on a Saturday and then 2 games on a Sunday with the odd games on a Wednesday is not economically viable. They cannot make any money so they have either taken Sky out or gone down the route of the foreign broadcaster at a cost of around £1200 a season.
    To the point about the games broadcast at 3pm Saturday all pubs were issued around 3 years ago with a warning that it was a public order offence to broadcast any live football games between 3pm and 4.45pm on a Saturday during the season.

  • Comment number 9.

    A European free for all would further destroy lower leagues and even the lower end of the Premiership. The only games that attract "consumers" are the games involving the Big 4 and Liverpool.

    All pubs may have been issued with a warning but in Northern Ireland there are many pubs that show 3pm games and therefore deprive local football of fans through the gates.

  • Comment number 10.

    They should change the model and make each game PPV, or do a weekend bundle.

    Charge pubs £50 per game or £150 for a weekend pass....

    Similarly charge private households in a similar fashion, £5 per game or £15 for a weekend pass...

    In any event - the model that is run now is broken!

  • Comment number 11.

    For too long the way that rights to football broadcasting have been issued goes against the principals of anti monopolies and consumer choice. This case is very interesting and will potentially have ramifications to all pay tv subscribers.

    Choice is having more than one provider with a choice of prices and delivery options. If you want to watch football (and other sports) you do have 2 choices; pay up or not watch. However, with so much money at stake, Sky and The Premier League will fight to the death to protect the current status quo, and in the mean time we will fund their profits and particularly footballers lifestyles.

  • Comment number 12.

    Sky don't get a penny from me and they never will!
    An evil, sinister organisation full of pompous and bloated egos.

    They will get theirs.

    Death to Sky.

  • Comment number 13.

    In an ideal scenario the TV money will go down thus bringing down the revenue for the EPL (which doesn't get filtered down to the lower leagues), clubs will make less money and in turn footballers wont get paid obscene amounts of money. Bring back the days where the players play for the club rather than their wallet.

    The amount of money that whirls around the EPL is not sustainable...

  • Comment number 14.

    This seems to be a fairly standard copyright problem - a provider may be able to restrict who sells their product in their territory, but cannot prevent their customers from buying the product from abroad, especially within the EU. The Premier League went after the wrong target here. As for the future finances of Sky et al, it seems unlikely that many domestic subscribers will be giving up their UK bundles for an overseas one. They may be happy to put up with Greek commentary on the football, but do they want to watch Greek film channels, etc?

  • Comment number 15.

    Anything that could potentially remove some of the TV money from British football is to be welcomed.

    If the final result is that the Premiership football rights are worth half what they are now, then wages in football would have to be constrained, parachute payments reduced and the concept of buying a football club for profit made less palatable.

    Maybe the football supporter who has been priced out of his or her club will have the opportunity to go again and the ideal solution of supporter owned clubs at every level of the game realised.

    Fingers crossed.

  • Comment number 16.

    Really? As a Yeovil and Arsenal supporter I know at least 90% of the crowd would much rather watch a live Yeovil game than an Arsenal on on the telly. I know that at least 10 times I have been to a Yeovil game above watching Arsenal on the telly. Perhaps Yeovil supporters are more dedicated than Barnet's equivalent... no, no, I joke.

  • Comment number 17.

    The BBC broadcast some cup matches live on the iPlayer, but that's not available to people outside of the UK. Presumably that would have to change, too? As somebody living overseas, I'd like to have the option of paying the licence fee and being able to access all the BBC's online content.

  • Comment number 18.

    I'm surprised to learn that because I live in England, where the Premier league is actually run, that I don't have as much choice in games to watch as say someone in America who (I assume reading the above) can choose any of the 380 games they like!

    I don't believe that lower league clubs would be badly hurt by showing games at 3pm on a Saturday - there is a difference between watching a live match and seeing one on tv as it's just not the same atmosphere.

  • Comment number 19.

    almost 100% of games are available for free streaming at good to great quality on the net for free. if the league tries to shut it down, they run into foreign sources (other country boradcasting / law) or hydra mentality.

    atdhe ( a low to mid quality example) was 'shut down' this past week, but was immediately up again with a new domain in a matter of days. there are countless other sites, with the nature of the internet as it is is impossible to police or shut down.

  • Comment number 20.

    ps apologies on the lack of re-reading that poor bit of prose :(

  • Comment number 21.

    Unless i am missing something here the main point, forgetting the 3pm saturday kick off one, is that the cost to pubs for sky sports will be slashed. They are the group that are really getting shafted by sky with some pubs paying many £1000's so they can show the football. At the moment it is worth it for them to get greek tv to show the football, because they can save a fortune. However for the general public subscribing to greek tv is not enough of a saving over the charges from sky. Therefor this frenzy about sky having to drop there prices to everyone is rubbish because their main customer base, the general public, will still pay their high charges.

  • Comment number 22.

    "Doomsday"? Hardly! Collapse of the TV deals might finally force modern football out of its ridiculous bubble.

  • Comment number 23.

    And the idea of "protecting" 3pm games is ridiculous, anyway: TV already encroaches onto them with the midday kick-offs and evening kick-offs on Saturdays while people are travelling to/from games.

  • Comment number 24.

    Don't subscribe.

    If demand falls and supply remains high then the price falls.

    Just don't subscribe.

  • Comment number 25.

    No way will the TV companies back down. I think in 2 seasons' time we will see all Premier League games played away from the 3pm blackout time on Saturday to maximise TV revenue, i.e. two games on Sat, and the rest of them on Sunday. It is a bit of an anachronism that Premier League games have stayed on Saturday afternoons for so long even though the TV companies are losing money by being unable to broadcast games on TV at 3pm on a Saturday. Thus the Premier League will follow the other 2 big European leagues in Italy and Spain who play most of their games on Sunday.

  • Comment number 26.

    I agree with this, The lady Should be able to view/screen whatever she wants, WITHOUT the SKY Monopoly.
    Hopefully one of the few Succesful shots at Sky

  • Comment number 27.

    Couldn't we sort something along the same lines as NFL coverage in the USA? They aren't allowed to broadcast games live in the local area of the match unless it's already sold out. Why couldn't we do something like that with 3pm kick offs?

  • Comment number 28.

    This will open the way to per-club deals.

    But anything that loosens the grip of Murdoch has to be a win for any right-minded person.

  • Comment number 29.

    Anything that means I don't have to pay a single penny to Sky Sports to watch anything at all after their ridiculous, unwarranted and arguably illegal decision - I'm an employment lawyer so do have a vague idea what I'm talking about - to sack Andy Gray for doing absolutely nothing wrong is fine by me.

    My son who, for reasons known only to him, is a Spurs supporter already watches every single Spurs game free of charge via the internet and can watch every Premier League match free of charge the same way, so it's beyond me why I have to pay a monthly subscription just so that I can watch proper sport, ie not soccer, on telly.

    Yes the upshot of the forthcoming decision may well be that there will only be one or two pan-european broadcasters for everything but, as long as it ends up with me not having to subsidise the overinflated wages demanded by the current generation of prima donna soccer players just for turning up on a Saturday afternoon and kicking a ball about for a few minutes, that can only be a good thing.

    I appreciate that a "career" in any professional sport is only ever going to be relatively short but even so no soccer player should expect to earn in a week what the vast majority of the population of this country has to work for 5 or 10 years to earn. That fire has been fuelled primarily by the huge sums of money paid by broadcasters for the exclusive right to show live matches.

    Soccer players make bankers seem like a caring, sharing bunch and yet bankers are blamed for the current economic mess the world is in.

  • Comment number 30.

    There really needs to be a root-and-branch look at the finances of football anyway.

    The biggest one being the Saturday rule.

  • Comment number 31.

    I was a season ticket holder at Villa for 11 seasons but didn't renew because I was tired of going to games at stupid times that wrecked the rest of my day. Being able to watch football at 3 o'clock on a Saturday or occasionally 7.45 midweek shouldn't be too much to ask, but I and many other fans are expected to get to and from games at silly times. Evening kick offs at the weekend mean you can't do much with your day before or after and Monday night 8 o'clocks are a real drag when you've been at work all day and have to be up early the next morning, hopefully there's some kind of overhaul that means football is played on a Saturday at 3 o'clock and the paying supporters that support their team are able to go week in, week out. The current set up is for armchair supporters to watch whoever they please and leaves very little regard for people who want to watch their team every week. People who complain about Sky being the only way they can watch games should go and watch a local team!

  • Comment number 32.


    Makes the most valid point of any that will be made in the entire argument, apart from the prostitution of the national game by the rich making themselves richer off the back of it.

  • Comment number 33.

    If Sky can't recoup their outlay to Football, because too many people get their subscriptions cheaper, then they will either go bust or have to pay less to Football. The knock on effect would be less money in Football, and a possible massive implosion of finances.

    Remember Setanta!

  • Comment number 34.

    Football as business contains two fundamental market failures which if addressed rightly by governmeent would result in much greater regulation;

    1) Clubs only to a limited extent have to compete for fans. Firstly because the number of top clubs is limited by competition structure and secondly because fans "support" clubs. I.e. as a Liverpool fan the fact we are rubbish right now and in terms of quality a Man Utd ticket would in economic terms be "better value for money" I'd never go watch them play. Therefore my club can use the entire price elasticity I'm willing to shell out on a ticket without fear I'll simply head off to a competitor or a new entrant will jump into the gap. In this sense every club is like its own monopoly and the league is a certainly a cartel. In any other business this would mean regulated ticket prices at a reasonable margin above costs - probably not much over ten pounds.

    2) Sky is like national grid having all the rights to sell all electricity without regulation. You either pay them and get football or you get no football. Again they can therefore exploit full elasticity of demand. The broadcaster should be seperated from the supplier (the company presenting the pictures to us) and then multiple tv companies would fight it out to gain viewers and costs would be driven down as in any healthy market-place.

    The net result at present is the guys at the end of the food chain where genuine competition does exist (recruiting talented footballers) get all the cash - windfalled from working-class spectators. And while much will be recycled in the economy, much will dissappear on exports or inefficiency. We would no longer get the most talented players coming over but we'd have a much healthier game - look at attendences in Germany to realise well regulated if poorer quality football can still be more popular.

  • Comment number 35.


    It'll mean less stupid money for players across the board and more money for clubs that people care about.

  • Comment number 36.

    As to the point about Asia. Having lived in Japan and China I find this interesting. Where does all the cash come from? In Japan the pay-to-view for Premier League football has a following but is not massively popular. While in China everyone either just streams for free or hooks up to South African sattelite to watch games. And noone buys gebuibe shirts. SE Asia is footy mad and has a bit of a market but there simply isn't enough money in the conomies there to be the pot of gold seemingly refered to here...

  • Comment number 37.

    The Asian market is a myth.

    They watch it because it's cheap/free to air.

    As the previous poster said, it could well be to the detriment of the PL.

    Not a bad thing. The PL has been polluted by very poor teams.

  • Comment number 38.

    Well, not said, perhaps.

  • Comment number 39.


    Sky TV has facilitated the influx of crap foreign footballers and ridiculous wages since its inception.

    I really can't see the reason for tears if their monopoly is stripped, unless you're stupid enough to hand over 50 quid a month.

  • Comment number 40.

    Especially in the internet age when you can get any game in the world, live, for free.

    I just want to see the basics. I don't fancy the players, so a low-quality. free stream is spot on for me.

  • Comment number 41.

    The EU is supposed to champion the free movement of goods and services. If want to do business with a Greek company, I can and should be able to. If my local supplier (SKY) has a monoploy, that should be broken. Another facet of EU regulation is to oppose monopolies so Im pleased they have come out on the right side. If this is another nail in the coffin of rip-off Britain then I'm for it.

    This means a cheaper deal for the consumer, why would anyone be opposed to that.. other than the greedy media monopolies?

  • Comment number 42.

    Correct me if i'm wrong, but all this is affecting is pubs and bars, so from what i can see, wont affect home subscriptions.

    I think someone said paying £50 a year to watch your home countrys football is disgracefull. Well considering that it costs on average £40 for 1 match, you're getting a pretty good deal....and anyway, you can get all premier league matches online streaming for free, with an abundance off sites.

    Good on the woman who stood up to sky, big chains off pubs the price is alright, but for smaller private chains, the price is ridicolouse, and a lot of punters only want to see their team play

  • Comment number 43.

    Foreign broadcasts of premier league football are commonplace. They have been for years.

    The idea that this is going to suddenly cause attendances to crash is nonsense.

    We would have seen this years ago. If people are not going to the match anymore its because its far too expensive, and football has ceased to be in touch with the communities the grounds happen to be in.

    Sky dont care if people stop supporting lower division clubs, they only care about the size of the profit.

  • Comment number 44.

    deve...wonderfully put mate...everything you says make sense.

  • Comment number 45.

    I agree that it only affects pubs, but I am assuming that if it gets sanctioned by the courts, that anyone would be able to buy a viewing card from Greece, or where ever.

  • Comment number 46.

    Dare I say it....if football went under due to debt and loss of funds I dont think i'd miss it after a couple of weeks.

    mmmm...although I would miss the world cup... we should just have international footy...

  • Comment number 47.


    You're absolutely right.

    My mistake.

    And if people want to spend the money in their own home then that's their perogative.

    But if this goes through then it's open to everyone, I would assume.

    (as an aside, my local had to have the football taken out of his pub as it was £1.500 per month).

  • Comment number 48.

    we pay an annual license fee to watch tv in the UK and that means any broadcast, foreign or domestic. now they are saying they want to restrict what we watch on our tv? why on earth are we paying a tv license? i'm getting totally fed up with our supposed democratic governments that are supposed to be supporting freedom of expression, freedom of information, and human rights, yet in reality they take away those rights when the big corporations and profiteers step in and bully us into only doing what they want.
    it used to be you only needed a tv license to watch tv broadcasts originating in the uk, if you only watched foreign channels you didn't need a license, they changed that so that you require a license to watch foreign tv. therefore you should be free to choose which tv channel you want to watch.

  • Comment number 49.

    the worthinger....turn on, tune in and drop out!!! I'm with you on the not subscribing!!!

  • Comment number 50.

    In a longer term Sky has no chance. On one hand, no-one can prevent you to watch any satellite TV you want and on the other, illegal internet streams are getting better and better. In the first case, once an EU court of justice decides it's illegal to restrict free movement of services across Europe and a Greek TV learns they have huge number of customers in the UK, they'll simply provide commentary in both Greek and English.

    And the latter case can't be stop. The more people become internet savvy the less the authorities will be able to police what's happing there and with technologies developing fast, they just can't keep up. The internet streams form all over the world are getting better and better.

  • Comment number 51.

    Am I the only person hoping that football loses all its TV income and returns to being a sport instead of a circus.

  • Comment number 52.

    lets be honest is doing a Roman Empire...the cracks are we really think anyone will be watching it or caring about it in 100 years?

  • Comment number 53.

    @3 - I believe the fear people had when the Premier League came about in 1992, was that it would lead to an almost inevitable surge in the number of 3pm broadcasts. The market seems to be dictating this now sadly due to rise in the number of supporters who can't/don't/won't go to the games not being televised live in the UK.

    In France and Germany the second division matches are often played on a Friday to avoid the sadly inevitable draw top-flight football has being played on a Saturday. Or what they sometimes do is have the kickoffs two or three hours earlier. Now whilst I don't sanction this, I do wonder if the football league would consider having their matches played earlier or even on a Sunday instead and whether this would have a positive impact on league attendances?

    With regards ot this topic, the funniest case in all this is China...

    CCTV5 - the sports channel used to have the Premier League rights, until the Premiership stepped in because China wasn't paying enough and "making enough" in selling the Premiership to the biggest country on the planet. In addition, it was also becoming a black-spot because CCTV-5 is easily obtainable with a satellite dish anywhere in the world. The PL then offered the Chinese TV rights it to a third-party PPV network which was a complete an utter disaster as hardly anyone bought it. They have since had to eek out one or two live free-to-air matches a week so the entire populace can watch.

    We had a similar farce in Japan at the beginning of this season whereby the Premier League wanted more money but the local broadcaster wouldn't deal at the price they wanted so there was a blackout for a weeks at the start of the season.

    The whole point of this is, although Asia is seen as a huge market for the PL, it tends to treat it with a bit of contempt and aggressiveness, wanting massive profit margins from these markets without realising that you are attempting to create fans not win them over by shelling out 400 yuan a month.

    I think these small disasters alone, are more than enough to legitimise some teams ambitions to negotiate their own TV deals which would lead to even greater gap between rich and poor in England.

  • Comment number 54.

    @36 - Reminds me of going to Kamo soccer store in Shinjuku and looking at the price of the replica shirts. I think it was something like 70 quid. If you factor in the strength of the yen vs the pound even that price was taking the p**s.

  • Comment number 55.

    @4 the man who knew too much. Most of us would prefer to watch gok wan than pay to watch barnet! The premier league has the best teams in England. Hence it is the most popular! If you don't want to watch it that's fine but understand that football is a global game.. So why can't armchair fans appreciate it?

  • Comment number 56.

    @4 the man who knew too much. Most of us would prefer to watch gok wan than pay to watch barnet! The premier league has the best teams in England. Hence it is the most popular! If you don't want to watch it that's fine but understand that football is a global game.. So why can't armchair fans appreciate it?

  • Comment number 57.

    Sky and the other european broadcasters are operating a cartel and should be investigated and fined heavily for this.

  • Comment number 58.

    Forget the broadcasters for a moment and consider the manipulation of the football authorities who are dealing solely in exclusivity. Exclusivity exists at several levels from the maximum number of fans who can attend a game, to the number of companies who may wish to televise that same game, and however the games are dealt out the football authorities are aiding and abetting broadcasters on grounds of exclusivity and the additional income this attracts from subscriptions, pay per view and advertisements.

    For those who support 'popular' premier league clubs then BSkyB and ESPN do a reasonable deal with their sports channels but for those who support rather less illustrious clubs the deal is much poorer value. But if you just love football then you really do not care.

    Could the football authorities be a little less crude in their package selling methods and a little more savvy about how the 'live' games are selected and sold? And wouldn't broadcasting competition rather than match or event exclusivity be better for all sport not just football with more people having access to a greater number of games for the same or less money than BSkyB and/or ESPN want now?

    And the BBC could do a lot more by covering some of the lesser sports including women's football etc. especially at international level.

  • Comment number 59.

    As a student, I had the experience of studying European law in its various forms and this verdict comes as no surprise. I visited the ECJ in Luxembourg last year and the opinions of those in the offices of the advocates general seemed to suggest that Mrs Murphy would be successful. Although the judges in Luxembourg are not bound by the opinions of the Advocates General, they generally adhere to what has already been said.

    The Premier League has said the role of the Court is to enforce the law and not to legislate (as the PL feels the ECJ will do) however this shows how little the PL knows about EU law and its institutional set up. Although it seems like the Court is legislating, the judges, advocates general and their assistants are very creative in their interpretation of the law while being very protective of the fundamental freedoms of the EU (free movement of goods, persons, money and services). From what was once seen as an internal market where commercial interests would be paramount, the rise of EU citizenship has seen this decline and now the priorities lie with the people. Sky and the PL should have seen this coming and should have known that the recent case law shows that this case will only be decided in favour of the landlady.

    The PL will have to market their rights continentally or risk losing millions when Sky subscribers ditch their TV packages for cheaper ones from the continent and Sky charges less (and pays the PL less) in order to compete. This would not just happen in the UK. Italian fans could get a cheaper deal from a Polish broadcaster while German fans could get cheap packages from Malta. The current system of licensing could be catastrophic for large TV companies and for the respective leagues.

    Selling to EU wide companies could be an option although the games will have to be split between various companies in order to preserve competition within the market. The problem with this system is that the PL sells more games per season to foreign broadcasters than it does to Sky or ESPN in order to keep attendances up at games throughout the whole of league football. This is why we have few live tv games at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon.
    The problem with this is:
    1) Does the Premier League cut the number of games it sells to a continental provider to maintain high attendances at grounds which would lead to the PL selling the games for a lower price? OR
    2) Does the Premier League sell a high number of games to EU wide broadcasters to make more money and risk reduced attendances at games throughout league football threatening the existence of smaller clubs due to lack of fees at the gate? OR
    3) Does the Premier League sell all of the games but instead schedule all PL games to be played on a Sunday and all football league games to be played on a Saturday? This could upset traditionalist fans although it could be argued that football is going this way with Monday and Friday night football...
    4) Do we stay with the national broadcasting system but allow providers from other EU member states to market their product in the UK which would lead to a price war? This can only be a bonus for the fans although Sky as a broadcaster would suffer as would the PL with reduced revenue due to reduced subscriptions.

    It is an interesting debate as to what steps the PL takes next but it is certain that change is needed. I feel this change will cost the PL dearly and some smaller PL clubs will be hit very hard. It might not be the end for the PL but the impending judgement coupled with UEFA's new rules on financial management in clubs competing in UEFA competitions, the days of £50m transfers are all but over. The Premier League brand is in for a tough time...

  • Comment number 60.

    Sugar has a lot to answer for aledgedy.

  • Comment number 61.

    I ment aledgedely

  • Comment number 62.

    A few years ago it was going to become far better for the consumer when the EU stepped in and said that Sky (or any broadcaster) owning all the rights was bad for us and they must be split.

    Now we have to pay for Sky and ESPN if we want to watch all the games. There's still no competition because they don't show the same games, it costs more to watch it all, but it's apparently legal and better for us.

    Now the EU is going to step in and say that to improve the service to customers we can buy any European Union based broadcasters service as part of the freedom of trade within the EU. Why should it end up being any better this time?

    "the exclusive deals Sky and ESPN have for live matches, currently worth almost £2billion over three years...At the moment European countries pay just £200m for live Premier League rights"

    Sky/ESPN are already forking out vast sums. Why not just buy the rights for every other European market as well? They can then sell them on to smaller broadcasters in each area on the condition they don't compete with them in the UK. Sky's problem solved, the PL gets more money overall again, and we all get shafted as a result.

  • Comment number 63.

    or allegedly even!

  • Comment number 64.

    Ian, sage words indeed. Just wondering whether the BBC article earlier posted your comments or did you cut and paste half the article and re word it???

  • Comment number 65.

    A lot of people don't like SKY and see them as pure evil. But just remember what the Football coverage was like before they arrived! How many live games a season?

    They have pushed the boundaries on broadcasting which we now take for granted.

    remember Sunday TV? The Waltons, Antiques Roadshow and that was about it for kids!!

  • Comment number 66.

    It has long been Rupert Murdoch's ambition to control televised sport worldwide. Any way that the internet can get around this is to be lauded. The ICE (part of Homeland Security here in America) has recently seized several websites which have been broadcasting live Premiership games. It would appear that ICE are only acting on behalf of these large international corporations like Sky, Fox and ESPN.


  • Comment number 67.

    14. At 10:44pm on 03 Feb 2011, Monkey Steve wrote:
    They may be happy to put up with Greek commentary on the football, but do they want to watch Greek film channels, etc?
    Actually, I live in the NOVA catchment area, and all matches have English/Greek dual commentary, and there's plenty of English programming...

  • Comment number 68.

    #29 - Please, the game you are talking about is called Football - "Soccer" does not exist in Britain, it's a word invented by the Americans so that they don't get confused with Throwball - or Football as they call it.

    I work in Africa and our TV channels are from South Africa, we get all the 3pm Saturday games, and virtually every other Prem league game. I'm glad that the lady involved won her case, it seems that we are forced to pick and choose if we're part of the EU are not when it suits certain situations/interested parties.

  • Comment number 69.

    I have to go against the majority opinion here. The argument that it's okay not to pay for something because it's overpriced or you don't like the people selling it is a petty playground argument. Sky are not that different from some other broadcasters, except that if you don't want their programmes, you don't have to pay for them.

    Sky have given the public hundreds of live matches a year, with dedicated coverage and capable staff (leaving aside the Keys/Gray issue), and the money they've invested has increased the standard of the Premier League (which trickles down to those who only watch the highlights on Match of the Day), even if you could argue that it's been detrimental to the England team. The only major negative of their coverage has been the decline in traditional Saturday 3pm kickoffs - and this issue is now likely to get worse, not better.

    The Premier League and Sky have every right to protect the value of their product. EU free trade policies simply result in huge multinationals gaining control of everything, and then being regulated out of being able to do their best. If less pubs screen Premier League matches, that simply allows the pubs to diversify their crowd and attract more non football fans.

  • Comment number 70.

    Hi David
    Something that no one seems to have broached yet. With FIFA's new fair play rules coming into play in a couple of years and United, Chelsea and United possibly struggling to meet the criteria, surely there is a possibility of our TV rights going the same way as Spain. When you consider that Arsenal had the vast majority of the Emirates naming rights and their shirt dael upfront, their financial figures won't be so rosy either in a couple of years time.

    I can see the above four teams pushing for individual rights rather than collective bargaining and see the big four or five gaining the vast majority of the TV revenue, creating a situation similar to Spain where the smaller teams struggle to compete even more than they presently do.

  • Comment number 71.

    @33 Scottish clubs will never forget Setanta

    @34 Poorer quality in Germany? I doubt that. The last game I saw was fast and full of technical quality that puts the EPL to shame and didn't the national team thrash England and Argentina with German based players.

    @65 ITV was great. Brian Moore was a legend. Only 1 or 2 games a week, something to look forward to. Now it's just plain overkill. Too much football on TV at the moment.

    Good luck to the woman from Portsmouth. A pub I worked in had to pay £1700 a season and nowhere near recovered the costs, and it was a busy pub. Needless to say they didn't renew.

  • Comment number 72.

    I'm all for Sky being knocked of its perch. It's disgusting how much you have to pay to watch fooball. I don't and never have paid for Sky and until prices are fairer at Sky or indeed with other EU providers I will continue to illegaly stream games.

  • Comment number 73.

    Excellent news ! maybe the BBC will also stop this stupid "not available in your territory" thing when you can't see vidéo clips in france that the whole of GB can see

  • Comment number 74.

    Something funny is certainly going on when I can watch MORE English Premier League games and even FA Cup and League Cup games in Peru than I can in the UK, and at a fraction of the price. Sounds like Rip-Off Britain again.

    The only problem in South America is that when simultaneous Champions' League matches are on, 9 times out of 10 we're forced to watch Real Madrid or Barcelona.

  • Comment number 75.

    This news is encouraging. As a fan who gave up his 15 year season ticket recently due to the financial climate, I am hoping that this will force the clubs' hand in making it cheaper to attend games.

    Also great news for the suffering pub industry. I know several pubs that illegally show Saturday 3pm games, many of which show a preferred club where there is big support in that particular area. Brilliant for watching your team's away games (despite this my team still sells out its away allocation for away games).

  • Comment number 76.

    Thinking that I might be able to get Nova satellite soccer matches - NOT in UK because I don't live there, I sent them an email - this was their reply:

    Info-Nova to me show details 3:58 PM (17 hours ago)

    Dear Mr. xxxxxxxx, (name removed)

    Thank you very much for the time you have spent to communicate with us.

    The existing provisions of the Greek and European legislation do not allow currently to our company to provide services outside the Greek territory. However, the non-binding opinion of the General Advocate on the case is contrary to the current regime, this regime can only be modified by new EU Law.

    Best regards,

    xxxxxx (again name removed)

    Multichoice Hellas S.A
    Customer Service Department
    Tel: +30210 6602500
    Fax:+30210 6659225

  • Comment number 77.

    In principle, if UK is in Europe and has to allow sourcing from any country in Europe, eg open immigration to allow east europeans to compete in UK jobs, the rules should also apply consistently that one can choose to buy rights from any country which offers at a competitive price. Sky or ESPN cannot have exclusivity when even governments do not have in a vast area of their business activity. Just like 'water finds its own level' once the ruling is made to allow purchase from any government for TV rights, SKY, ESPN and Football league will find ways to exist. Best thing to happen and surprised they got away so far.

  • Comment number 78.


    "Good luck to the woman from Portsmouth. A pub I worked in had to pay £1700 a season and nowhere near recovered the costs, and it was a busy pub. Needless to say they didn't renew."

    Surely not £1700 a season? A busy pub should take more than that on a Friday night. £1700 a month would seem closer to the target (although my memory when I worked in a pub was that it cost a littel over £1k).

    Back on topic, however, it seems that as this has risen up to the European courts, surely they are constrained by their own fair trading across the EU states regulations and, therefore, any EU citizen is free to choose from where they purchase an EU product, subject to relevant taxes. Or not?

    I am, however, not a law expert. I would imagine that the Premier League will find someway to not lose any money and, as usual, it will the end customer footing the bill.

  • Comment number 79.

    #78 a busy bar will make a lot more than that on a Friday night. An average high street McDonalds takes that in half an hour.

    MY concern is that 3pm kick-offs being shown live will impact on lower league attendances which have slipped enough as it is.

  • Comment number 80.

    Sky have dictated for too long to the entire nation how football should be administered. Their dominance and pompous attitude was seen only in a miniscule measure with Messrs Keys and Gray.
    When they talked about bringing an end to the monopoly, they ensured it was too expensive for free to air, and all sorts of pay companies turned up.

    Its time the people started voting with their feet (or their mouse’s). Cancel your subscriptions and start watching it for free.
    When Sky start losing money - only then will they listen to the true sponsors of football..............THE FANS!!!

  • Comment number 81.

  • Comment number 82.

    I think that people aren't giving lower league supporters enough credit here, after all if you are dedicated enough to support a local team then you will be dedicated enough to forgo watch Man Utd v Chelsea live even if they were played at the same time.

    Surely in a capitalist society anything that increases free market competition is a good thing, or is it as usual it's only good if the rich get richer.

  • Comment number 83.

    From the article: 'The Premier League said such a policy would "damage the interests of ...viewers of Premier League football across the EU".'

    What a pompous, arrogant, naive and self-interested assumption to make! Do the PL think we're stupid?

    And '...broadcasters whose clear preference is to acquire, and pay for, exclusive rights within their own territory only'

    Yeah, sure. Ditto.

  • Comment number 84.

    BSkyB is the media version of Mubarak: "But my subjects WANT me to be their ruler, pay me loads of taxes and earn very little"!

  • Comment number 85.

    There appear to be a lot of comments on here suggesting that this will have a negative impact on SKY. However, with regards to TV PL fotball viewing (ignoring satellite streams for the moment), I suspect that the likely outcome is that SKY (individually, or in conjunction with others, i.e. ESPN) will actually procure the whole EU PL transmitting rights, which they will then sell-on to other "local" broadcasters. In order for those local broadcasters to recoup their outlay to SKY, their subscription costs to viewers will increase. Regardless as to who is actually broadcasting the football, it is my understanding that there is normally only one set of primary TV cameras at PL football grounds, which are used by all broadcasters. If SKY control all of the rights, and who they sell them on to, it will be easier for them to control whether the streams ever get to the internet, thereby effectively shutting off, or obtaining revenue, from that outlet as well.
    In summary, I think that SKY will actually end up with more control & income as a result of this ruling, rather than less.

  • Comment number 86.

    I would be quite happy to see less money in Football. This ruling would affect all the clubs in Europe, so hopefully, we would see a bit of deflation, and a more realistic wage/transfer structure. No one is worth quarter of a million a week, in football or any other profession for that matter.

    Also, what is so special about 3 o'clock on a Saturday? half the matches are played on a Sunday or Monday, and no one has a problem with televised matches then. It is ridiculous that English fans are the only people in Europe that can't watch English games.

    It might surprise the FA, but if I can't watch the premier league on a Saturday, I'm not about to trot off to my local unibond league side. I'll just fire up the internet and watch it there.

  • Comment number 87.

    68. Please, the game you are talking about is called Football - "Soccer" does not exist in Britain, it's a word invented by the Americans so that they don't get confused with Throwball - or Football as they call it.


    Get your facts right. "Soccer" was invented by the English. It's a slang abbreviation of "association football" which is the full name of, well football. And they invented it so that they didn't get confused with "rugby football", which is the full name of, well rugby. The word "football" itself originally referred to a variety of games played by peasants ON foot, rather than BY foot, as opposed to horse-riding games played by aristocracy.

  • Comment number 88.

    I've seen this argument from all sides! As a viewer when I lived in Cyprus, pubs and bars there showed all Saturday 3pm (5pm there) PL football live via South Africa's SuperSport network. Alot of bars also had multiple screens so that they could show a different game on each screen. As a viewer, it was absolute bliss!

    I've also run a small community pub recently and for me to subscribe to Sky to broadcast games legally would have cost me £850 per month - regardless of how many games were shown. To have ESPN/Setanta games too incurred a further surcharge. Those kind of charges were simply not viable to me as only Man Utd and Liverpool games realistically bought any kind of tangible increase in business to offset againt the outlay.

    I've also been in the market of going to lower league games when my team isn't playing on Saturday afternoons but this again isn't financially viable for most families. I recently went to Notts County to watch a game there with my partner and our two kids. Tickets alone cost £72, without adding in the cost of travelling to the game, lunch , the half time pies and bovril et cetera. By the time I'd got home, I was out of pocket to the tune of around £110, which is crazy money to watch lower league football. For the cost of one game at League One level, I can have two months of TV viewing - how can that be right?

    As a viewer, I firmly believe that I should be able to watch not only whatever games that Sky Sports or ESPN decide I watch, with technology these days, I hould be able to sit down on Saturday and choose what game that I actually want to watch via either an interactive menu ( like Sky do for the Champions League games ) or by simply following SuperSport's model of having ten sports channels so you watch SuperSport 5 for Blackburn v Wigan, SuperSport 8 for Arsenal v Blackpool and so on.

    Where the right choice is, who knows but I don't think that broadcasting 3pm Saturday kick offs will impact on attendances that much.

  • Comment number 89.


    Have a lie down lad. You are ranting and making no sense.

    Fair play to the EU, who get a bad press in this country. Its clearly an impedement to having a single market. All that will happen if this is impemented is that media rights will fall a bit and wages and transfer fees will come down a bit, maybe 20%. It should lead to lower prices for the consumer, and crucually more choice as bbc/itv cant take sky on for live premier league football, but Mediaset/canal+ etc can.

    Its sky who will be hit harder though, not the premier league, but then thats life

  • Comment number 90.

    Its nothing short of criminal.

    We only get a fraction of the games shown anyways - for an exorbitant monthly fee - why are we held captive by such a draconian system... My team gets a maximum of 2 or 3 games A YEAR on the television - the only way I get to see them as I live too far to get to games - and they want me to fork out £500 a year for that ??? Get real!

    I am prepared to pay a reasonable fee for the games everyone else around the world gets to watch. Clearly by the number of responses many many agree.

  • Comment number 91.

    Why is the FA imposing the Saturday 3pm rules, if you wanted to watch a live game at Manchester United and you live in Cornwall, it would take you a lot longer to drive to the ground than flying in from France,Spain or anywhere else in Europe, it makes no sense...... I'm glad Karen has taken on the big boys and got this far, I hope the final decision goes her way to.... GO GIRL

  • Comment number 92.

    The Premier League/Sky/Murdoch must be concerned with this development. Imagine a league where don't have to pay for the nose for what is a whole a rather mediocre and predictable product.

  • Comment number 93.

    The debate about 3pm kickoffs and their impact on lower leagues/grass roots football is interesting. If i'm honest though, i've never really believed it makes sense.

    I'm a West Ham fan. I was a season ticket for many years and currently i get to about 5 or 6 games a season.

    As with many supporters i have a number of 'second teams' from across the country and indeed, across the world. To illustrate my point i'll just mention the clubs that i could realistically attend. There are two clubs within 10 minutes walk from my house, Leyton Orient (League One) and Leyton FC (Ryman League Div One North). My family live in Eastbourne and so Eastbourne Borough FC (Conference Premier) can be added to my list too.

    As i understand it, the argument against 3pm kickoffs being televised is that i, as a West Ham fan, would be more likely to watch a televised West Ham game at 3pm on a Saturday than go to watch a live game at one of the clubs i've mentioned above.

    This is clearly true. I love my club.

    However, the argument is based on the false logic that, had West Ham not been televised, i would probably have gone to a game at Orient, for example. This is clearly not true for me and, i would argue, for most football fans. We have lives, we have families and kids, we have hobbies and jobs and other interests outside of football. We will watch football on tv or listen to it on the radio when it doesn't involve our club, but we will do so whilst digging up the garden or recovering from a heavy night out. I don't know anyone that religiously watches the early kickoff on a Sunday regardless of the teams involved and the same applies for the other games shown on SKY/ESPN or broadcast on BBC or Talksport.

    I suppose my point is that there are many other factors that mean that i don't attend games at Orient or Leyton or Eastbourne. One is work, another is my family. Interests and hobbies are more important too. I'd rather go to Upton Park than the cinema but i'd rather go to the cinema than to watch Orient play Oldham!

    There's also the issue of ticket prices. The average price at Orient is something like £15, Eastbourne is £14 and Leyton is £10...yes £10 for Ryman League One North football, the eigth tier of english football. I'm willing to pay inflated prices (usually about £35) to see West Ham but why would i do so for other teams that i have no real connection with other than them being local? It seems to me that 'smaller' clubs spend ages moaning about how 'bigger' clubs draw fans away but i see no evidence to suggest that the smaller clubs are doing anything proactive about it.

    If Leyton FC, who incidentally seem to be having some money troubles, stuck a note through my door saying 'we need your support, here's a voucher to get in to our next game for a fiver' i'd be more likely to go along, i'd be more likely to spend money in the bar or on food, i'd buy a programme, and ultimately i'd probably be more likely to go again and pay full price. Have they done this? Not once in the last 10 years! Kinda proves my point really.

  • Comment number 94.

    It could actually be the worst thing to happen to competition on the pitch. I agree that Sky Subscriptions (although I do have one) are high but if clubs, especially the top clubs start to get less revenue from tv deals then they'll not sign up to the next collective agreement and sell the rights to their games through their own channels thus gaining even more revenue compared to the others.

  • Comment number 95.

    Sky and the Premier League love globalisation and international trade when it suits them. Its the same with all business. It’s about time the consumer fought back. As for the Sat 3pm thing. The PL and Sky throwing lots of red herrings out. Basically they are only concerned it will affect their revenue.

  • Comment number 96.

    The EPL needs to suck it up. Football supporters have been fleeced for too long.

  • Comment number 97.

    Haha Sky in your face!!

    If they are going to charge ludicrous sums of money to landlords then they've brought this upon themselves. £5-8k a month is a rip off.

    It seems the Greeks and everyone else can watch OUR league cheaper than we can, sounds fair.

    I don't mind paying £30-£45 a month for TV but why should Landlords be forced to pay such a high amount, i know it helps their revenue but come on!

    Maybe its time the money men realise its a national sport we love, not a money making machine to exploit every penny they can out of it.

    I know lets just play all our games in Dubai or China, we'll make much more money and its not like the english fans are what made these clubs who they are!

  • Comment number 98.

    Oh and god how i would love the BBC, ITV or even Channel 5 to get a few premier league games every season.

    I don't care if the punditry and graphics aren't as good if its cheaper and more accessible.

    All Sky have done is limit the number of people able to watch any 1 game.

    In China they can watch all the games and we can't, thats madness.

  • Comment number 99.

    #87 tamales

    Thank you for the "Soccer" info, it is not something, I for one, was aware of, but it does make sense.

    I think another history lesson that most people seem to be unaware of, is the amount of money that Sky have put into football (I know it's our money really, but nobody is forced to pay it. It reminds me of the people that complain about TV programs - just turn it off). This money has allowed the world's top players to come to this country, improving it vastly, IMO, creating more interest with larger crowds and more collateral income. Not forgetting it is the most popular league in the world. I know a lot of people complain about the money paid to footballers, but is it any worse than pop and film stars, investment bankers and any number of other remuneration packages that we don't hear about. It's called supply and demand.

    I can't help thinking that a lot of these comments are from people that don't like or watch football and are jealous of the lack of money in their own preferred sports. I know of a crowd of people that call it "kevball", the inference being that only thickos like football.

  • Comment number 100.

    Splitting the EU by countries is completely opposite to the philosophy of the EU of trading being free between member countries. Any legislation the EU has enacted has always had this philosophy in mind and the Advocate General will almost certainly be proven right.

    I'm sure the Premier League will then just offer one package for Europe. They'll lose £200m of income and the Greeks won't get our football cheaply. The Premier League will still have £1,800m coming in, so it's hardly a disaster for them.

    In any case, everybody I know thinks that there's too much money in the Premier League and the wages are out of control.


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