SPFL loses foreign satellite appeal

Pub group set to pursue damages claim after fresh victory

• Wishart: Lisini wants “a level playing field”.
• Wishart: Lisini wants “a level playing field”.

LISINI Pub Co is to pursue its claim against the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) for more than £1.7 million in damages following a fresh court victory regarding the use of a foreign satellite system.

The group, whose outlets include Angels in Uddingston, the Parkville in Blantyre and Dalziel Park Hotel in Motherwell, last week resisted an appeal by the SPFL to an earlier court ruling.
Delivering her decision at the Court of Session, Lady Paton upheld an earlier ruling in favour of the pub group.
In March, Lord Woolman supported Lisini’s counterclaim that an interim interdict secured by the then Scottish Premier League (SPL) in 2007 to prevent it showing top-flight football matches in its pubs using a Polish satellite system was wrongful and in breach of Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which refers to the “prevention, restriction or distortion of competition”.
Lord Woolman’s decision followed a similar case involving Portsmouth licensee Karen Murphy, in which the European Court of Justice ruled that clauses prohibiting the use of foreign decoders and cards were “void” as they “constituted a restriction on competition”.
At the March hearing, Lisini also sought damages of £1,761,749.
The SPFL appealed, but it was dismissed at the inner house of the Court of Session last week.
Following the decision, Lisa Wishart, managing director of Lisini, told SLTN the pub group “only ever wanted a level playing field”.
“The SPFL will naturally continue to defend its position, but we are confident that we can conclude matters satisfactorily at a final hearing, which will happen at some point in 2014,” she said.
“It has been a difficult and costly process but we, Lisini, felt strongly that we should attempt to redress the SPL’s blatant targeting of our company.”
John Paul Sheridan, a director at law firm TLT, which acted on behalf of Lisini, said: “This is good news for our client and great news for the industry as this is the first confirmation that the Scottish courts have given on European law.”
A spokesman for the SPFL said: “We are now considering with our advisors the most appropriate next steps in light of the decision. We will continue to robustly defend our position.”