Scottish Professional Football League loses appeal over pubco screening foreign satellite broadcasts

By Ellie Bothwell

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags European union United kingdom Ecj

Solicitor Nick Fenner says the decision could impact English pubs
Solicitor Nick Fenner says the decision could impact English pubs
A Scottish pub company has resisted an appeal brought against it by the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL), a case that could impact on English pubs that have been asked not to use foreign satellite systems.

SPFL lost its appeal against a recent case involving Lisini Pub Management, in which a judge overturned an injunction by the organisation to prevent the pubco from screening foreign satellite broadcasts of live football matches at its three pubs.


Lisini Pub Management is now pursuing a £1.7m damages counterclaim against the SPFL.

The case found that an undertaking, in which the SPFL said it was unlawful to broadcast live football matches using a foreign decoder, was not binding. Judge Woolman said this was because the ‘interim interdict’ (temporary court order) was based on allegations that the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has held to be invalid.

It followed the QC Leisure case in which the ECJ ruled against the Premier League, stating that the sale of the European foreign-satellite decoder cards is “contrary to the freedom to provide services”.

'Could impact English pubs'

Nick Fenner, intellectual property partner at TLT Scotland, which was acting on behalf of Lisini, said: "This decision could impact English pubs. It is based on the EU law principle that UK viewers should be able to access live sports broadcasts from other EU member states. English courts are likely to be similarly reluctant to enforce agreements obtained from pubs which are designed to restrict that access."

TLT director John Paul Sheridan added: "We are delighted to have had the appeal against our client overturned. This is good news for our client and great news for the industry as this is the first confirmation that the Scottish courts have given on the European law."

Copyright owner's permission

However, a Premier League spokesperson said: “As the Courts have previously made clear, each case turns on its facts, and it is clear that this Scottish judgment is not simply a case about whether it is permissible to show foreign satellite broadcasts in UK pubs. We have seen nothing to suggest that any of our on-going cases could be detrimentally impacted by the decision. We will continue to protect our rights accordingly.

“The ECJ ruling was very clear. A broadcast in a pub, club or any other commercial premises is considered a communication to the public. The ECJ clearly stated that when an individual makes such a communication to the public, you need the copyright owner’s permission to do so. In the case of Premier League football matches that means you need the Premier League’s permission, and the only broadcasters we permit to make such broadcasts in the UK are Sky Sports and BT Sport.


“We are currently carrying out our largest ever investigations programme and are in the process of taking legal action against several pubs. If pubs want to avoid being taken to the courts then Sky Sports and BT Sport are the only options.”

Lisini Pub Management, owned by ex-Celtic player Harry Hood, has three pubs in the West of Scotland.

Related topics Legislation

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