Premier League wants to stop you illegally streaming football online

A crackdown on piracy looks likely.

Blind footballer scored a wondergoal in the Paralympics
How do you watch the Premier League? All above board? Image Picture Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

If you’re in the habit of watching Premier League football on bootleg streams then you’re luck might be about to run out.

The Premier League and Football Association are clamping down on UK internet service providers who provide links to sites that broadcast matches illegally.

With Sky and BT Sports tying up more and more subscribers, the Premier League is doing its best to make it harder for fans ­– and pubs who flout the rules – who get away without paying.

In the past few years, hundreds of domains have been added to the piracy blocklist, but sites are getting around this by firing up alternative domain names that host links to the external links streaming matches without a licence.

More than fifty new domains have been added to the new ban list. However, this is only likely be a temporary fix for the Premier League’s ongoing problem with illegal streams.

A spokeperson for site FirstRow insisted to TorrentFreak that their site hasn’t been breaking the law.

Olivier Giroud in action for Arsenal in the Premier League
On target Bootlegged games are frequently streamed during football's weekend 'blackout'. Image Picture Alex Livesey/Getty Images

“Our site uses third-party players, so blocking FirstRow will not stop the streams, as these will still be accessible online. They are saying that FirstRow is illegal, but our site is indexing streams that are available on the web, which is free information,” FirstRow said.

The Football Supporters’ Federation told Loaded that cracking down on piracy would help protect attendances, particularly as many games are illegally showing during the long-standing 3pm ‘blackout’ on televised games.

“Most fans would agree that watching a match at home is no substitute for the real thing and we support any efforts that would encourage football supporters into the match-going habit,” a spokesperson for the FSF says.

The battle against footballing copyright infringement is also expanding to Italy and Spain.

Last year a court in La Coruna forbid website Rojadirecta from linking off to illegal sports streams. Fast forward to now and the site has emerged again under a different web address and continuing to serve up bootleg links.

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Loaded digital media manager Simon Reynolds has written about film and entertainment for various leading websites since 2008. Follow Simon at @simonreyn

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