Jan 212013

Albania has joined North Korea in becoming only the second country in the world where broadcasters have not been invited to tender for live Premier League games as the world’s richest football competition does everything in its power to stop TV piracy. New TV deals in more than 200 overseas nations will earn Premier League clubs more than £2billion for the three-year cycle from 2013-2016 inclusive, bringing in around £5.5bn in total from TV when domestic deals with Sky and BT are included.

But the TV deals keep their value  only when piracy is kept to a minimum – and  imported decoders from  Albania have become a major problem in Britain, where it  is currently  possible to watch Albanian TV’s live coverage of Premier League  games.

As long as the League do not offer  rights  for sale in Albania, that problem will cease, although Albanian  fans of English  football will then be faced with a blackout – unless  they acquire their own  imported decoders from neighbouring Greece or  Macedonia.

The  League’s determination to protect their record-busting revenues from TV deals  will be underlined this week as two British men face possible prison sentences  for an audacious scheme that made them cash from pirated football footage.

Gary Goodger, a 24-year-old from Reading, and  Jack Bannister, a 23-year-old from Burnley, were found guilty respectively of a  copyright offence and handling the proceeds of a crime after a six-day trial  last month.

Goodger had been operating a website called  FreeFootyLive, which broadcast live Premier League games he picked up from  foreign feeds with a massive satellite in his backyard in Reading, processed via  seven computers and nine satellite decoders found in his home.

The dish, which measured two metres across,  was used by Goodger to pick up Premier League games being broadcast live to  audiences in the Middle East.

Bannister was hired by Goodger to process  payments from his customers