The Premier League will continue to fight against pubs screening Saturday 3pm matches despite losing a case in the European courts.
The league claim the ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) makes it clear that they have to give permission to pubs and clubs to show top-flight football.
It comes after they lost a case against a pub landlady who used a foreign decoder to screen live matches at 3pm on Saturdays. Karen Murphy paid £800 a year for the Greek service and said she would have had to pay 10 times that much for Sky. The ECJ ruled in her favour, but added that some parts of the broadcast such as the graphics remained the Premier League's copyright.
The ruling effectively allows anyone to buy a cheaper decoder from elsewhere in Europe, though in practice it is only cost-effective for pubs and clubs to do so, but the Premier League insists the ruling has made clear they have to authorise any screenings in places such as pubs.
The Premier League said in a statement: "The ECJ judgment responds to 18 specific questions referred by the UK High Court. They have now answered these questions in terms of how European Law applies. It is now for the High Court to consider how the ECJ judgment affects the cases in question.
"We are pleased that the judgment makes it clear that the screening in a pub of football-match broadcasts containing protected works requires the Premier League's authorisation. Currently only Sky and ESPN are authorised by the Premier League to make such broadcasts."
The ECJ ruling is still likely to have major implications for how sporting broadcast rights are sold both in Britain and across Europe in the future, but the case first has to return to the High Court. One future option for the Premier League will be to sell their domestic rights and European rights as one giant package, but with no Saturday 3pm games included.
The ECJ said in a statement that no allowance could be made to protect attendances at matches on Saturdays. The case came to the ECJ after Murphy, a Portsmouth publican, appealed after losing a court action brought against her by the Premier League for using a cheap Greek satellite decoder.
The case in the ECJ also involves the suppliers of such decoder cards to those pubs.
The ECJ also ruled that only the opening video sequence, the Premier League anthem, and pre-recorded clips showing highlights of recent Premier League matches and various graphics could be protected by copyright.
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