EU ruling could change Premier League viewing

An EU ruling allowing television viewers to by-pass UK broadcasters and watch cheaper foreign satellite coverage of Premier League football would threaten the nation's grass roots sport, it was warned today.

The ruling came a step closer today when an Advocate-General at the European Court of Justice advised judges to back the right of Karen Murphy to use a Greek decoder in her Portsmouth pub to screen matches.

She faced a fine and costs totalling nearly £8,000 after the Football Association Premier League (FAPL) took her to court for breaching the League's power to grant exclusive broadcasting rights within the UK.

But Ms Murphy took her case to the EU Court and today Advocate-General Julie Kokott said blocking her right to use far cheaper Greek decoders to screen matches breached EU single market rules.

The Advocate-General's "opinion" is not legally-binding, but the full panel of EU judges follows such advice in about 80% of cases.

And if they do so in the final verdict later this year, it could mean a major rethink for the premier League and its current exclusive agreements with Sky Sports and ESPN.

This afternoon Tory MEP and European Parliament spokeswoman on sport Emma McClarkin said it would also have "significant and detrimental" effects on the funding of grass roots sport in the UK:

"This opinion is far more complicated than a simple David versus Goliath battle: money generated from television rights to sports are funnelled back into grass roots development, particularly in cricket and rugby.

"These are national football leagues that are being broadcast, and they should be subjected to national territorial rights agreements."

Miss McClarkin said the European Commission had already made clear that sport should be treated as a separate issue when it comes to EU cross-border rules, and said today's opinion "failed to recognise the specificity of sport".

She went on: "This could have consequences on the quality of national sport broadcasting.

"Once again, we are seeing the European Court of Justice taking the most federalist interpretation of the law, and this time the consequences will be very far-reaching for television and sports rights owners and for all levels of sport."

Sport
The sun rises over St Andrews golf course, but will it be a new dawn for the Royal and Ancient Golf Club?
sportAnd it's Yes to women (at the R&A)
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week