The tradition of going to the pub with friends to have a drink and watch the match goes back many years. Football fans across the country enjoy the opportunity to follow their clubs this way.
Pubs in the UK benefit from the popularity of Premier League football. It gets fans through the door at weekends and week nights season after season.
Here at the Premier League we know that we benefit from pubs too: thousands of landlords choose to broadcast our matches on Sky Sports and BT Sport on their premises. In doing so they make our competition available to hundreds of thousands of fans.
We also know there are companies and individuals claiming to publicans that alternative systems – often offering overseas channels broadcasting the Premier League – are legal. There has been lots of talk about blocking logos meaning copyright isn’t being breached and that if you do that ‘you’re alright’ but that is simply not true.
Over the past season we have continued to take legal action against several suppliers – two received custodial sentences – and scores of publicans have been ordered by the High Court to pay costs for breaching copyright laws.
In each case the pubs involved were broadcasting matches on foreign channels. Some were duped by dodgy suppliers, and to those I have a degree of sympathy. However, you will understand that I have more for the thousands of licensees that do subscribe to Sky and BT for their Premier League services, but are undercut by competitors using channels they should not be.
From next season the landlords broadcasting our football the wrong way will have no excuse. The copyright law has changed and the picture is now even clearer.
As of 15 June 2016 it does not matter if the logos are blocked or the music is turned off – just screening live Premier League football on any channel without the appropriate licence can land you in trouble.
We don’t want to take publicans to court or see them out of business, but we must protect the investment Sky and BT make in Premier League football.
It means our clubs can play the sort of competitive and compelling football that makes thousands of fans head to the pub to watch the match with their mates in the first place.
Richard Scudamore is executive chairman of the Premier League.