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Uefa eyes change to free TV football

Football fans of a nervous disposition may want to look away now as a potential legal 'result' flashes up: Uefa 1 UK Government 0.

For, if European governing body Uefa gets its way, this summer's Euro 2008 championship will be the last that British fans get to watch entirely on free-to-air TV.

Uefa is challenging the British list of "crown jewel" sporting events - those deemed to be of such national importance that they are guaranteed to be shown on terrestrial television.

The Swiss-based football body cannot see why all 31 games at the Euro 2008 championships - which includes the likes of Sweden v Greece and Czech Republic v Turkey - must be shown on free-to-air TV in the UK.

Particularly when the tournament in Switzerland and Austria has no British participants this time round.

'Infringement of rights'

Uefa has laid out its legal case to the European Union, in an action which seeks to annul the UK's listing of the entire European football championship as a free-to-air event.

The football body says the listing "infringes the applicants property rights, as it results in a restriction of the way in which the applicant may market the television rights to the Euro".

It also says showing the entire tournament on free-to-air in the UK "leads to a disproportionate and unjustified distortion of competition on the relevant market".

UK 'Full Live TV Coverage' Protected Sports Events
Olympic Games
FIFA World Cup Finals Tournament
European Football Championship Finals Tournament
FA Cup Final
Scottish FA Cup Final (in Scotland)
The Grand National
The Derby
Wimbledon Tennis Finals
Rugby League Challenge Cup Final
Rugby World Cup Final

At present each member state of the European Union must supply its list of major "protected" TV sports events to the European Commission for approval.

The commission has backed the most recent UK list - which also includes all the games at the World Cup - but now finds itself facing legal challenges from both Uefa and Fifa.

Uefa is appealing against the commission approval of the British TV list and wants to have its future European championships delisted from the UK's "protected" events schedule.
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