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Premier League to tighten European TV restrictions

A general shot of Arsenal's Emirates Stadium. Photo: PA A general shot of Arsenal's Emirates Stadium. Photo: PA

Monday, January 14, 2013
5:00 PM

European broadcasters are to be restricted to showing one live match only on Saturday afternoons as the Premier League fights back in its effort to prevent pubs in England showing the games using foreign decoders.

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TV stations on the continent will also not be permitted to have commentary in English - another change from the current deal which allowed all the Saturday 3pm games to be shown on the continent and with no restrictions on commentary.

It follows last year’s High Court victory for Portsmouth pub landlady Karen Murphy, who overturned her conviction for using a cut-price Greek satellite decoder to air Premier League matches.

Some of the top-flight clubs such as Sunderland have claimed attendances suffer badly from pubs in the city showing home matches live via foreign satellite decoders.

The new rules for European broadcasters mean pubs will not be able to show any match they choose even if they have a foreign decoder.

Although the league lost the High Court case, it claimed a partial victory after the European Court of Justice ruled it could take legal action for breach of copyright for clips such as opening video sequences, graphics and highlights of previous matches.

The Premier League has almost finalised its overseas rights deals for 2013-16 - only Europe, the Middle East and North Africa remain outstanding. Once those are in place, the total broadcasting income for the next three seasons in expected to top £5billion.

Meanwhile, a compromise solution on spending controls is expected to be agreed by the Premier League chairmen next month despite four of the leading clubs writing to demand UEFA’s full financial fair play rules are brought in.

A letter from Arsenal, Tottenham, Manchester United and Liverpool to the league chief executive Richard Scudamore has called for full spending controls, where clubs must break even without wealthy owners being allowed to cover clubs’ losses.

Manchester City and Chelsea are opposing any spending controls being brought in but it is likely the 20 clubs will agree at their meeting on February 7 on a compromise which will allow a fixed amount of losses to be covered by owners.

The letter from the four clubs states: “Thank you for your continued work on the vital subject of Financial Regulation for the Premier League.

“However, we do not feel that the latest proposals go far enough to curb the inflationary spending which is putting so much pressure on clubs across the entire League.

“We continue to believe that to be successful and have the best chance of gaining at least the 14 votes necessary, any proposals for Financial Regulation must include meaningful measures to restrict the owner funding of operating losses.”

West Brom and Fulham also oppose any spending controls, while the remaining 12 favour some form of compromise solution.

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