Anti-money laundering laws will be used to pursue foreign satellite suppliers that let pubs show football, under new plans.
That's according to a new chief at the agency that probes the screenings in pubs. Retired policeman David Eyles also revealed that prosecutions are currently being brought against up to 30 licensees for screening games via foreign satellites.
Eyles, operations director at Media Protection Services (MPS), was the director of operations at the Metropolitan Police Clubs and Vice Unit until December. He co-ordinated crackdowns on drugs and guns in licensed premises, and on unlicensed doorstaff.
Eyles said the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 will be used to trace and seize assets from foreign satellite suppliers, if licensee Karen Murphy loses her case at the European Court of Justice (ECJ). Murphy's appeal against her conviction for foreign satellite screenings was referred to the ECJ last July — no date is set for the hearing.
To use the 2002 Act, it must be shown that income from suppliers was generated by criminal activity.
Eyles said: "There are two elements: those people buying cards and using them, and behind that the organised groups making huge sums of money. They are exploiting the problems licensees are having in the economic downturn."
He said the process of prosecuting licensees is "on-going", with case papers being brought against around 30 hosts for using non-EU cards to screen games last football season.
The Premier League said last November it was "pointless" bringing new foreign satellite prosecutions until after the Murphy hearing, although MPS said investigations of pubs would continue in the meantime.
MPS boss Ray Hoskin said there were plans to recruit others with "similar background" to Eyles.
Hoskin said: "We welcome David's participation and he brings a wealth of experience.
"The level of successful prosecutions is increasing on a weekly basis and those conducting an honest trade will benefit accordingly. Much of the 'spin' emanating from dealers in the pirate cards is entirely false and recent legislation covering false and misleading advertising will also be brought to bear. We would welcome any examples of such circulars, flyers etc. received from such dealers, to support future action."