Combating piracy of SPFL matches in commercial premises

By Sky Business

- Last updated on GMT

Stay on the right side of the law: the only way to guarantee your Cinch SPFL broadcast is legitimate is to buy through Sky
Stay on the right side of the law: the only way to guarantee your Cinch SPFL broadcast is legitimate is to buy through Sky

Related tags: Sport, Legislation, Social responsibility, Licensing

With the 2021-22 football season well under way, the Scottish Professional Football League (Cinch SPFL) is increasing its anti-piracy work to prevent unauthorised broadcasts of Cinch SPFL matches being screened in pubs and other licensed premises.

Legal implications

Sky logo

Sky takes illegal screenings of sports broadcasts very seriously because it is important to ensure legitimate Sky subscribers are not left short-changed.

The only legal way to show Sky Sports programming in licensed premises in the UK is through a valid commercial viewing agreement from Sky Business.

Legitimate Sky Business commercial subscribers will see a pint glass icon appear on  their TV screen from time to time. The lack of this icon can reveal who is showing Sky illegally.

Licensees who screen Premier League, SPFL or EFL matches via unauthorised foreign channels to the public risk having legal action taken against them by the leagues for infringing their copyright.

Sky have established field teams to actively detect unauthorised showing of Sky Sports. This illegal activity can result in licensees being fined and having to pay legal costs and/or losing their personal licence.

If you know of a venue screening Sky Sports illegally, visit

Both international broadcasts and matches broadcast for residential use only infringe Cinch SPFL’s copyright if screened in commercial premises in the United Kingdom. Cinch SPFL takes illegal streaming seriously and is keen to protect those that show legitimate broadcasts of SPFL matches via a commercial agreement with Sky.

Although club-produced streams for some matches remain in operation this season, these are for residential use only and are not authorised to be shown in commercial premises.

Neil Doncaster, chief executive of Cinch SPFL, said: “We know it’s tempting when premises are offered cheap streaming services to show SPFL matches, but it’s always worth thinking if it’s too good to be true, it inevitably is.

“We will thoroughly investigate, and take appropriate action, when reports of broadcast piracy are recorded. We’re pleased to continue our extensive and ongoing work with Sky to identify fraudulent streaming and combat piracy from both sides of the broadcast. This season is producing some thrilling matches for Sky’s commercial customers and it is important that we protect those premises that invest in a valid commercial subscription with all its attractions in terms of reliability and quality of service.”

Multiple court actions

As part of Cinch SPFL’s anti-piracy programme, unauthorised SPFL matches being shown in commercial premises are detected and, where appropriate, legal action is taken. Cinch SPFL has raised multiple court actions against the licensees of licensed premises who have been found to be showing live Cinch SPFL Premiership matches without the appropriate licence. 

This has led to interim interdicts (temporary injunctions) being granted against the licensees preventing unauthorised screenings of SPFL Premiership matches whilst the court actions progress. At the conclusion of these actions, the courts may grant permanent interdicts (injunctions) and typically award substantial legal costs in Cinch SPFL’s favour.  

The only legitimate way for live Cinch SPFL Premiership matches to be shown in commercial premises in the United Kingdom is if a valid commercial subscription agreement with Sky is in place. Sky also has a dedicated commercial piracy programme across the whole of the UK to protect the investment of legitimate Sky customers. 

Related topics: Legislation

Related news

Show more