TV football trial could cost £40m in fees

THE combined legal bill for the investigation into television football rights could run to as much as £40m, according to lawyers involved in the action.

As the three-month trial passes the half-way mark, lawyers involved say estimates of huge legal costs, from “well into the £20m-mark, and up to £40m, are credible”.

The premiership's costs are reported to be more than £7.5m, and the Office of Fair Trading's more than £6m.

Freshfields, Denton Hall, Herbert Smith, Richards Butler, plus numerous QCs and in-house lawyers, are all involved in the trial, which will see more than 60 witnesses called.

Christopher Carr QC, who is acting for the BBC, says any estimates are speculative, “but, even so, I think you can have a good idea. It's quite likely that the costs of these proceedings will be up to £40m”.

Partners at several firms say the number of parties involved, and the need for so many expert witnesses, has made this one of the most expensive proceedings they have been involved in.

The case will establish whether the five-year broadcasting contract that the Premier League has with BSkyB and the BBC is the work of a cartel acting to limit competition, and if it is against the public interest.