Blackburn pubs defiant over foreign satellite broadcasts

By James Wilmore

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Foreign satellite systems, Blackburn rovers f.c., Blackburn

Pubs in the North West are blatantly defying the FA Premier League by showing football matches via foreign satellite systems - and some even during...

Pubs in the North West are blatantly defying the FA Premier League by showing football matches via foreign satellite systems - and some even during the "closed period".

Despite threats of a crackdown by local police, licensees in Blackburn are using foreign satellite systems to screen Blackburn Rovers games.

The Adelphi, in Blackburn Boulevard, advertised a screening of Blackburn's first game of the season against Portsmouth last Saturday, which kicked off at 3pm.

However, since the issue had been raised in the local press the Adelphi's licensee Lynn Balshaw said she would now stop screening games for fear of prosecution.

A pub close to Blackburn Rovers' ground, Ewood Park, is also believed to have displayed an A-board telling punters they were showing the game.

However, Blackburn Rovers' chairman John Williams is concerned that the club's home gates are being affected and has contacted local MP Jack Straw, who has written to Trade Secretary Alastair Darling calling for him to look at the Blackburn situation.

Geoff Sutcliffe, president of the Federation of Licensed Victuallers' Associations and licensee of the Rising Sun in Blackburn, said he believed around 20 pubs in the town were screening matches using foreign systems.

But he added: "We are still telling our members it's illegal. But I can understand why they are being tempted because most can't afford Sky."

Some suppliers are believed to offer Premiership games to pubs for as little as £200 for the season.

Mr Sutcliffe added: "The trouble is I don't think the defence of saying they were unaware it's illegal will stand up any more."

Dan Johnson, chief spokesman for the FA Premier League, said: "It remains illegal to broadcast via foreign satellite systems, but suppliers try to perpetuate the myth that it's a grey area.

"If we receive any information we will definitely carry out investigations to check out what is going on. We are going to be doing 200 visits a month across the country."

More than 100 licensees have been prosecuted in the last 18 months for showing Premiership football via foreign satellites. A breach of copyright laws can lead to a fine of up to £5,000.

Related topics: Legislation

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