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