CAT takes lead judiciary of UK football data rights dispute

The Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT), UK law’s main court for business and economic disputes, has ruled that it will act as the lead judiciary in the data rights and competition infringement claim made by Sportradar against Betgenius and Football DataCo (FDC).

As judiciary, the Tribunal has dismissed the applications made by Football DataCo and Betgenius to transfer Sportradar’s ‘competition claim’ to the High Court.

The outcome of the application, lodged in response to Sportradar’s competition law claim back in February, means that it can finally proceed to trial in early 2021.

At the start of 2020, Sportradar had served legal proceedings against Betgenius and FDC in relation to how the companies had structured the exclusivity of their licensing and distribution partnership of live data of Premier League, English Football League (EFL) and the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) rights.

The claim will now proceed to trial in the Competition Appeal Tribunal, which retains jurisdiction despite recognising that claims concerning the ‘private law rights’ of Genius Sports and FDC which will be heard in the High Court, are intertwined with this dispute and should be case managed together.

David Lampitt, Managing Director, Sports Partnerships at Sportradar, commented: “As the Tribunal has clearly stated, the dispute manifestly depends on questions of competition law, and private law rights cannot be relied on to give effect to an exclusive agreement which violates competition law.

“We welcome the fact that the Competition Appeal Tribunal’s judgment has upheld Sportradar’s submissions, and that the competition law claim will proceed to be determined first and in the specialist forum.

“Sportradar issued its claim against Football DataCo and Betgenius in the Competition Appeal Tribunal on 28 February 2020 and this application has caused considerable delays to those proceedings. Now that it has been refused we look forward to progressing our competition law claim to trial.”

Genius Sports, the operating company of Betgenius, issued an immediate statement welcoming the decision by the Tribunal to retain its judiciary over the dispute.

Genius countered that matters related to ‘private law rights’ between Betgenius and FDC will be heard by the High Court, where outcomes will be intertwined with the Tribunal’s hearings.

The statement read: “Genius Sports looks forward to the issues being determined. Genius Sports’ and DataCo’s’ connected arguments to be heard in the High Court concern Sportradar’s alleged trespass, rights infringement and breach of contract.

“These are cases that centre on the funding of sport and football leagues’ ability to participate in revenue from data collected on their events.”

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