TUKWILA, Wash. (AP) – The Premier League are bracing themselves for a landmark European ruling which could force a major change to how they sell television rights.
On Tuesday, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) is ruling on the case of a Portsmouth pub landlady, Karen Murphy, who was prosecuted for using a Greek satellite decoder to show live matches at 3pm on Saturdays.
She appealed, arguing that she should have the right to access any service in the European Union, and in February the ECJ's advocate general Juliane Kokott issued an opinion backing Murphy's position.
Her opinion is not binding, but the judges usually follow the guidance from the advocate.
That may mean selling sport, or any other broadcast content, on an exclusive territory-by-territory basis within the EU may no longer be possible. Kokott stated: "The exclusivity agreement relating to transmission of football matches are contrary to European Union law.
"[The] exclusivity rights in question have the effect of partitioning the internal market into quite separate national markets, something which constitutes a serious impairment of the freedom to provide services."
Premier League chiefs are anticipating that the ruling will go against them to some extent. But insiders insist this does not necessarily mean a drop in television income from mainland Europe, which is around £130million, or less than 10% of their total £1.4billion overseas rights deal.
One option will be for the Premier League to sell their domestic rights and European rights as one giant package, and another to have their own Premier League subscription TV channel available across Europe.