Matthew Hall Pens Times Article on Proposed Premier League Antitrust Exemption

June 1, 2021

The Times published an article by London partner Matthew Hall on May 27, 2021, about the dangers of allowing anti-competitive agreements among competitors in any but the rarest of circumstances.

In the article, Hall notes that the UK Competition Act 1998 allows ministers to suspend the general ban on such agreements for “exceptional and compelling reasons of public policy,” but that the clause was intended as a reserve power to be used only rarely.

“The coronavirus pandemic clearly created rare circumstances and fully justified the provision being dusted off,” he wrote, noting how the power was invoked to ensure adequate supplies of food and other necessities during the public health emergency and to assist with crisis response.

“But as the vaccine rollout proceeds apace and fans return to football grounds, the government has proposed using the same powers to help the [Premier League] and its broadcasters,” he noted, asserting that doing so would set a dangerous precedent. “The reserve power should be used only exceptionally, as the law requires, and the government should refrain from this intervention in the market.”