Five people operating illegal streaming services that offered live Premier League matches were sentenced to jail terms totaling over 30 years in the UK, per a Tuesday announcement from the Premier League.
The individuals were found guilty on charges of conspiracy to defraud, money laundering, and contempt of court. The longest sentence was 11 years.
One of the defendants claimed to be an undercover informant, which was false, while another was found guilty on additional, unrelated charges (including possession of indecent child imagery).
When announcing the sentences, the Premier League touted their anti-piracy efforts.
Kevin Plumb, Premier League General Counsel, said: “Today’s sentencing is the result of a long and complex prosecution of a highly sophisticated operation. The sentences handed down, which are the longest sentences ever issued for piracy-related crimes, vindicate the efforts made to bring these individuals to justice and reflect the severity and extent of the crimes.
“This prosecution is another concrete example of the clear links between piracy and wider criminality, a warning we repeatedly make. While most Premier League fans enjoy watching our games in a safe way, those who were customers of these services were effectively supporting individuals involved in other sinister and dangerous organised crime.
“This was a hugely challenging case, and we are extremely grateful for the hard work and expertise of the authorities who supported us, in particular the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham Trading Standards who coordinated the investigation and worked with law enforcement agencies across the country.
“The Premier League’s substantial financial contribution to the entire football pyramid is made possible through the ability to sell our broadcast rights. We are pleased that through rulings such as this, the courts continue to show that they recognise the importance of safeguarding the Premier League’s rights. We will continue to protect our rights and our fans by investigating and prosecuting illegal operators at all levels.”
The Premier League has cracked down on illegal streaming of its product in recent years. Back in 2021, a man received a sentence of 16 months for setting up a pirated streaming service.