Fans planning to watch Old Firm game on illegal streams could face £50,000 fine

Fans could face major fines if they stream the Old Firm illegally
Fans could face major fines if they stream the Old Firm illegally -Credit:Andrew Milligan/PA Wire.

Fans planning to watch the colossal clash between Celtic and Rangers this weekend could face a £50,000 fine if they tune in on an illegal streaming service.

The Glasgow rivals will face off at Celtic Park in what is being dubbed as a title-showdown by many including broadcaster Sky Sports who will show the game on their Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Football channels from 11.30am.

While catching a game through unauthorised means might seem convenient, the implications of such actions are severe in the UK.

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For those not willing to settle for free, live commentary on BBC Radio Scotland or the Sportscene highlights on Saturday night, sports analyst Alex Hemming from Free Bets Ireland, looks at the legal repercussions, including specific fines and the efforts of law enforcement to crackdown on this issue, reports the Record.

Alex warned: “The risks associated with illegal streaming of sports in the UK are significant and multifaceted. The potential for hefty fines, criminal prosecution, and personal data compromise makes illegal streaming a risky endeavour. With more legitimate streaming options available than ever, choosing to view sports through official channels is not only the legal choice but the smarter one.”

Legal Repercussions

Illegal streaming of sports is a significant legal offence under UK copyright law. Those caught can face not only civil penalties but also criminal charges. The penalties are severe, with possible unlimited fines and imprisonment terms of up to ten years.

The enforcement of these laws has been bolstered by the Digital Economy Act 2017, which targets both the providers and viewers of illegal streaming services. This legislation provides UK law enforcement with robust tools to aggressively pursue and prosecute those involved in digital piracy.

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Crackdown by Law Enforcement

UK law enforcement, including the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), is intensifying efforts to combat illegal sports streaming. These initiatives often involve collaboration with Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and have led to high-profile raids and the shutdown of numerous illegal streaming operations.

For instance, actions against IPTV services distributing unauthorised Premier League broadcasts have led to significant legal outcomes and the dismantling of complex illegal streaming networks.

Financial Penalties

The financial repercussions for illegal streaming are substantial. Courts can levy fines that, depending on the scale of the infringement, may reach tens of thousands of pounds.

For example, individuals found distributing illegal streams have faced fines upwards of £50,000.

Viewers of such streams, while typically facing less severe fines, can still be penalised with fines often exceeding several thousand pounds, reflecting the severity with which the UK treats copyright infringement.

Impact on the Industry

The repercussions of illegal streaming extend beyond legal and financial penalties for the individuals involved. They also have a detrimental impact on the sports industry.

Losses from pirated streams undermine the financial stability of leagues, teams, and broadcasters, affecting their ability to fund quality programming and player development. This ultimately impacts the quality of the sports content legally available to fans.

Technological and Security Risks

Accessing sports through illegal streams exposes users to significant technological risks. These unauthorised sites frequently host malware and other cyber threats that can compromise personal data and damage devices.

The security risks associated with illegal streaming are substantial, often resulting in severe data theft or hardware issues for unsuspecting users.