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Premier League broadcasts in UAE hit by UK clampdown

Dubai: UAE-based English Premier League (EPL) fans are being denied full access to matches by a clampdown on illegal broadcasts in the UK.

Many supporters were left angry when Al Jazeera Sports — which has exclusive rights to EPL games in the Middle East — only showed one of the five matches that kicked off at 7pm UAE time on Saturday. Usually all matches are broadcast live and the feature fixture shows goals from other games as they go in, but this was stopped at the weekend.

Now it appears that Sky Sports has stepped in because Al Jazeera’s coverage is frequently shown illegally in bars in the UK. Numerous breaches of media regulations forbidding televised Saturday afternoon football there have led to sanctions — after warnings — against Al Jazeera and Fox Sports Italia.

The Italian broadcasters have been stopped from transmitting any Saturday 3pm GMT kick-offs, while Al Jazeera’s coverage has been restricted to less than what their contract allows, much to the chagrin of subscribers.

A Premier League spokesperson said: “We have become aware that live broadcasts of PL football intended for overseas territories are being transmitted in the UK. We are working to address this and there will be some editorial changes while we do so.”

The Al Jazeera broadcasts are that much more sensitive because its EPL programmes are presented by former Sky duo Richard Keys and Andy Gray, who departed acrimoniously after the sexism storm involving lineswoman Sian Massey in 2011.

Meanwhile, Al Jazeera Sport is to be globally rebranded beIN Sport on January 2, when Real Madrid play a friendly against Qatari-owned Paris Saint-Germain in Doha.

— With inputs from Daily Mail