European court ruling could threaten Premier League broadcasting revenue

The Premier League's long-term ability to attract huge sums in broadcast rights could be damaged by a ruling in the European Court of Justice. Yesterday an adviser to the court said that European Union law cannot prevent matches being shown in UK pubs via foreign broadcasters and if that is adopted by the Court this year it will radically alter the way in which sports rights are sold across the continent.

Later this year the Court will rule on a case brought by a Portsmouth publican who was fined for showing Premier League games via a Greek decoder. The ECJ usually acts on the advice of the advocate general and it is Juliane Kokott's opinion that rights cannot be held exclusively within European member states.

At present Sky and ESPN have exclusive rights to broadcast the Premier League – the current domestic contract is worth £1.78bn over three years – but the ECJ ruling would potentially undermine that, meaning the League could not guarantee that all-important exclusivity. "It could set off an earthquake in sports rights marketing," claimed Dr Peter Duvinage, a German legal expert. The danger for the Premier League is that it may result in a single pan-European rights holder, who then sub-licenses to each country or territory, and there are few broadcasters in a position to fill that role. That has obvious consequences for the price the rights fetch.

The League responded yesterday with a statement that accused the European Commission of trying to "force through legislative changes via the courts." The statement said: "Our initial view is that [Kokott's advice] is not compatible with the existing body of EU case law and would damage the interests of broadcasters and viewers of Premier League football across the EU. It would prevent rights holders across Europe from marketing their rights in a way which meets demand from broadcasters whose clear preference is to acquire, and pay for, exclusive rights within their own territory only. The ECJ is there to enforce the law, not change it."

The Premier League's TV rights are the most lucrative in the game, with an extra £1bn coming from global broadcasters on top of the domestic income. Most of that comes from a rapidly expanding Asian market, with Europe estimated to provide just a third of overseas income.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk