What is the "black-out" rule in football and is it lawful?

Published 19 December 2018 By: Alex Haffner, Thomas Edwards

What is the

Article 48 of the UEFA Statutes, otherwise known as the “black-out rule”, exists to protect football fans and players from the effect of competing with live coverage of football games. The rule has been subject of much debate 1 since it was introduced, and it has been brought into focus again by over-the-top streaming service Eleven Sports (Eleven).

So what exactly does the regulation state and why is it in place? And does the rule still have a place in the modern game, or is the rule vulnerable to a challenge under competition law? This article examines:

  • The legal basis of the rule, and the reasons for its introduction;

  • Eleven’s arguments against the rule;

  • Previous legal challenges and reviews of the rule; and

  • The likely outcome of a future competition law challenge of the rule.

 

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Author

Alex Haffner

Alex Haffner

Alex is a Partner in the Commercial, Sports and IP Team at Fladgate LLP, specialising in the sports, technology and media sectors.

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Thomas Edwards

Thomas Edwards

Associate, Fladgate 

Thomas is an associate currently sitting in the CSI Corporate department.

Thomas graduated from the University of Sheffield with a degree in English and a master’s degree in Law before going on to complete his LPC at the University of Law.
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