By Alexander Apostolides on October 04, 2011

In defence of NOVA (Greece) and the European Court Rulling


The European Court of Justice (note: the court that interprets EU law) has said that the English government wrongly stopped publican Karen Murphy (note: when did publicans stop being ugly as sin ex-boxers?) from paying for the cheaper satellite service of Greek company NOVA in order to show premier league games in her pub. Now one can watch from the cheaper service on offer, regardless of the EU country - The end of the SKY stranglehold on Premier league football.

This decision is the correct one and is based on the principle idea of the European Union - more competition is good for everyone, especially the consumers. But I predict far reaching consequences for football and club financing because of it - it might turn up to be more important than the Bosman ruling on EU players:

1)The financing platform of most Football Associations and of most clubs will need to change. The ruling states that an FA does not "own" the game (that is "owned" by the teams on the pitch) and hence it can not sell it as part of a parcel. Except most clubs signing separate deals with broadcasters in the near future - with possible an even greater divide between rich and poor clubs.
2) Once again it has shown how behind the times are the conservative heads of European Football Associations really are. It is clear even to basic student of EU laws that discriminatory pricing based on national borders is illegal - and yet they have failed to move to another model of financing. FA's would sell the rights to platform in different countries at varying prices, making a fortune in the process - this was clearly illegal since the creation of the single market in Europe. FA's are completely incapable in finding solutions (we are still waiting for the answer to diving, and promoting national players) and should be reformed.
3) This is good news for the prices of games. This ruling makes it very difficult for anyone to offer anything but the lowest price in Europe, especially if a clever clogs takes UEFA to the same court for forcing internet video of the Champions league to have alternative pricing according to the country you are watching it.
4) The financing of clubs is directly affected. A greater drive to have a pan European presence will be needed, as suddenly your share of the pot from the UK TV rights will be reduced. I think it might make playing in Europe more important as the new trance of Sky TV cash for premier league games will be significantly reduced, since SKY will not be able to force British citizens to pay 480 pounds a month (for a Sky pub licence) to show the games, when consumers can watch them for 118 pounds.
5)Well done to NOVA - that is exactly how Greece can bounce back - by being cheaper and aggressively trying to get exports from the EU.