Football: European court ruling due on Pub v EPL clash

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The European Court of Justice hands down a ruling Tuesday in a long-awaited British case involving a pub landlady fined for televising Premier League football using a foreign satellite TV provider.

Karen Murphy, who runs The Red White & Blue pub in the Southsea area of Portsmouth on the southern English coast, is taking on the might of the English Premier League (EPL) over the broadcasting monopoly on live matches.

A legal opinion being issued by the Luxembourg-based court threatens a huge shake-up in the sale by owners and marketing by broadcasters of sports in potentially a serious blow to British rights-holders Sky or ESPN.

When Murphy took over the pub in 2004 she cancelled the license to show live EPL matches with British satellite broadcaster BSkyB and signed up with the Greek service Nova instead.

She said Nova cost about £800 ($1,250, 930 euros) a year whereas Sky was roughly £7,000 a year.

The EPL, which has sold the rights to show live matches to BSkyB and is by far the richest football league in the world, took her to court in England and she had to pay almost £8,000 in fines and costs.

But she then took her fight to the ECJ, the highest legal body in the 27-country European Union.

In February this year the ECJ Advocate General, Juliane Kokott, found in her favour, advising that in her view, "territorial exclusivity agreements relating to the transmission of football matches are contrary to EU law".

The court's judges will announce on Tuesday whether they have upheld our advice.

An employee at the pub said when contacted by AFP that Murphy would not comment until after the verdict.

An EPL spokesman also refused to comment, but in February the league said Kokott's view was "not compatible" with European case law.

Analysts say a victory for the landlady could trigger a "revolution" in European football, meaning that the Premier League may no longer be able to sell the broadcasting rights country by country.

The last Premier League three-year television deal, which runs out next season, brought in £3.5 billion, of which £1.4 billion was paid by foreign broadcasters.

© 2011 AFP

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