Illegal football: Majority of publicans would report venues as licensee fined £70k

By Oli Gross contact

- Last updated on GMT

Illegal football: Majority of publicans would report venues as licensee fined £70k
Publicans have little sympathy for fellow licensees who play Sky Sports illegally, with a poll indicating a majority (55%) are likely to report a pub in their area if they were screening live sport without a licence.

The Ipsos MORI research also found that 82% of publicans believe unauthorised screening of live sport impacts other pubs, 89% think a fine is an appropriate penalty and 1 in 4 (24%) said they have reported another pub.


The poll follows a recent conviction in which a licensee was ordered to pay £71,079.16 for playing football without a licence.

Paul Kift of the Plough & Harrow in Swansea has been told to compensate for damages and costs after using a residential viewing card from Ireland to show Sky Sports.

Sky brought civil proceedings against the licensee for repeatedly infringing its copyright, despite the broadcaster sending a number of warnings of legal action.

'Above the law'

Alison Dolan, deputy managing director at Sky Business, said: “Orders like this result from some licensees thinking they are above the law. The message is clear – if you choose to televise content illegally then you run the very real risk of being caught and facing substantial penalties or damages, such as the situation Mr Kift now faces.”

In addition to this civil action, there have been 35 criminal prosecutions brought by The Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) for showing Sky Sports illegally this football season alone, resulting in total fines and costs paid by licensees to more than £150,000.

Dolan continued: “A known supplier of illegal Sky broadcasts to pubs has in fact recently warned its own customers that they face legal action if they continue to use its service.

“Thousands of law-abiding pubs and clubs who legitimately pay commercial Sky subscriptions are fed up with losing customers to venues that continue to screen Sky Sports illegally. This ruling is just the latest in our efforts to ensure they are not short changed.”

Record fines

The case against Kift follows a recent separate case against pub company Sheldon Inns Ltd, which resulted in record fines and costs from a criminal conviction​.

Sky is committed to visiting every licensed premises reported for illegally showing Sky and has made arrangements to visit more than 700 pubs each week this season.

Sky Sports is only available to licensed premises in mainland UK via a commercial viewing agreement directly from Sky Business. Licensees that show Sky broadcasts without a commercial viewing agreement risk similar action or even a criminal prosecution. 

Related topics: Sport

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