Judge refers pub football rights case to ECJ

footballPublicans have won a key judgment that may allow them to bypass costly UK broadcast licenses to show Premier League matches. The case has now been referred to the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

The legal case began when the Football Association Premier League (FAPL) sued a group of publicans and a number of importers and suppliers of non-UK satellite recording equipment for using satellite decoder cards obtained in other countries. 

The decoder cards allowed the publicans to access satellite broadcasts of Premier League matches shown by foreign broadcasters and meant that they were able to avoid the more costly licenses fees imposed by the official UK supplier, BSkyB. 

FAPL argues that it has only licensed foreign broadcasters to show Premier League matches in their own territories. The defendants argue that, under European single market rules, the FAPL is not entitled to stop the decoder cards being imported to the UK. 

In the High Court yesterday (Tuesday), Mr Justice Kitchin agreed to the defendants’ request to refer the case to the ECJ. The judge has indicated that he agrees with the points of law argued by the defendants. A win for the defendents could led to a significant loss of revenue for Sky.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email customerservices@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here