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The Premier League has issued a warning to football fans after a man found to be supplying illegal streaming devices was ordered to pay them nearly £1 million.
In a bid to make money off the fandom, Coventry resident Steven King helped mastermind the pirate streaming operation Dreambox, which provided football fans with illegal access to Premier League football games.
The system operated under the names Dreambox, Dreambox TV Limited, and Digital Switchover Limited via websites at dreamboxtv.co.uk and yourfootie.com, and found custom in more than 1,000 pubs, clubs and homes throughout England and Wales.
King was apprehended for his involvement in Dreambox and jailed for seven years and four months in March 2019, before returning to Warwick Crown Court today (6 June).
He has now been ordered to forfeit the proceeds of his criminal activities and pay back £963,000 made through the operation within three months, or face having his prison sentence extended by an additional six years and eight months.
The judge in the case also ruled that King must surrender his passport within 28 days and cannot travel abroad until the sum has been paid.
Kieron Sharp, CEO of the company FACT, which helped investigate Dreambox, issued a warning after the judge's ruling to anyone involved in similar activity.
He commented: "This is a warning to anyone selling subscriptions or devices that allow access to content without remunerating the legitimate provider – you risk time in jail and the loss of your properties, cars and other proceeds of crime. FACT will continue to work with the Premier League and other rights holders to crack down on illegal streaming and to hold those behind it accountable for their actions."
Premier League General Counsel Kevin Plumb said the action taken against King 'clearly shows that supplying illegal streams is a criminal offence leading to prison sentences and significant financial consequences'.
He went on to say the Premier League is 'pleased' the seriousness of the crime has been recognised, and announced that the league has requested all of the money recovered go back to public bodies, including law enforcement agencies.
Plumb acknowledged the 'vast majority' of fans watch the games through authorised sources, but reiterated the warning for those who don't as he said: "They must be aware this is not only an illegal activity that can lead to custodial sentences but they also risk becoming victims of hacking and fraud.
"We will continue to work with law enforcement to tackle piracy of our content and to educate fans on the dangers of watching Premier League matches via unauthorised streams."
King was one of three men apprehended for their involvement in Dreambox.