Pub's soccer fine despite ECJ deliberations

By John Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Foreign satellite football European union

Soccer screening: fine for pub operator
Soccer screening: fine for pub operator
Magistrates have refused to adjourn a prosecution for foreign satellite football screenings at a Humberside pub pending the European ruling.

Magistrates have refused a request to adjourn a prosecution for foreign satellite football screenings at a Humberside pub pending the landmark ruling from the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

Weir (Hessle) Limited, which operates the Weir Bar in Hessle, pleaded guilty to breaching competition law. The company was fined £3,000, and ordered to pay £3,000 costs, at Beverley Magistrates.

Magistrates heard the company was responsible for installing and using the system so licensees Darren Goulbourne and Julie Crane, who pleaded not guilty, were acquitted.

The broadcasts were transmitted via a decoder card from Albania, which is outside the EU.

The ECJ's ruling on the legality of foreign satellite football is expected in the coming months.

Last week advocate general Juliane Kokott, an influential advisor to the European Court of Justice (ECJ), backed the idea that restricting broadcast rights to individual EU states contravenes the principle of free movement of goods.

The prosecution at Beverley Magistrates was bought by Media Protection Services, whose managing director Ray Hoskin said: "It is clear that the court took the view that this case, one of many currently being conducted by us, was not affected by recent activity in the European Court.

"It is also encouraging that the defence, having failed in that application, readily accepted and admitted that the company had committed the offence.

"This leaves in no doubt that in addition to licensees, we intend to bring prosecutions against pub companies who permit the installation of these systems.

"We have no option but to increase our rate of prosecution for offences being unearthed on a weekly basis."

Solicitor Paul Dixon of Molesworths Bright Clegg, who represented the company, said: "We cannot comment on an isolated case before lay magistrates in Beverley while we are considering further courses of action with our client company.

"Only last week the advocate general to the European Court of Justice condemned the way in which the Football Association Premier League markets broadcasting rights as 'tantamount to profiting from the elimination of the internal market (of the EU)' and wholly unlawful.

"Licensees, pub companies and others should treat with extreme caution any propaganda that appears to suggest that the proceedings before the Court of Justice have no relevance to the UK."

Related topics Licensing law Other operators

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