Manchester United start their defence of the Premier League title with a trip to West Brom on Saturday 13 August.
Manchester United start their defence of the Premier League title with a trip to West Brom on Saturday 13 August. Reuters

Pub landlady Karen Murphy has won her European court battle against the Premier League over the use of a foreign decoder to screen live football games.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) said an exclusive system of licences for the broadcasting of football matches in different EU countries - effectively stopping fans watching the broadcasts with a decoder card in other member states - is "contrary to EU law".

Ms Murhpy was ordered to pay almost £8,000 in fines aster she was taken to court by the Premier League for using a Greek decoder to in her pub to screen football matches, avoiding the League's rules about where matches are screened.

The ECJ ruled that the opening video sequence, pre-recorded clips showing highlights of recent Premier League matches and graphics and the Premier League anthem are covered by copyright.

"By contrast, the matches themselves are not works enjoying such protection,'' the ruling stated.

Pubs and bars would have to obtain permission to broadcast those opening sequences, but not the match itself.

The European Court of Justice ruling could deal a major blow to the Premier League and its lucrative TV rights agreements with Sky Sports which provides the League with most of its television income - and ESPN.

The Premier League will make more than £1.6bn in the UK from its current three-year deal with BSkyB and has a separate deal in this country for live match coverage with ESPN, along with a highlights deal with the BBC for Match of the Day.

"A system of licences for the broadcasting of football matches which grants broadcasters territorial exclusivity on a member state basis and which prohibits television viewers from watching the broadcasts with a decoder card in other member states is contrary to EU law, The ECJ said in a statement.

"National legislation which prohibits the import, sale or use of foreign decoder cards is contrary to the freedom to provide services and cannot be justified either in light of the objective of protecting intellectual property rights or by the objective of encouraging the public to attend football stadiums.''