This weekend's large, dark cloud might come with one, small silver lining – it now appears that any Football Association investigation into allegations of match-fixing amid the recent Norwich City-Derby County fixture at Carrow Road will draw a blank.
At least two Sunday newspapers today reported that initial investigations have both clubs in the clear – that there was no immediate sign of the 'unusual betting patterns' on the Singapore spread-betting markets that prompted the Sunday Telegraph's initial story last weekend.
Then, of course, the game in question was just a Championship match. By the middle of the week, however, and two Norfolk MPs had pointed a large parliamentary finger at the City-Rams game.
Cue 48-hours in the full media glare as Norwich's quiet and untroubled preparations for yesterday's trip to Ashton Gate went out of the window.
Somehow the manner of the Canaries' latest reverse merely summed up a wretched week at the office for all concerned – coming complete wit first-half injuries to Adam Drury and Antoine Sibierski.
With Canary boss Glenn Roeder confirming afterwards that John Kennedy had aggravated his ankle injury in the process, news that the match-fixing scandal might – finally – be put to bed was about the only piece of good news to pass across the manager's desk.
That said, today's reports didn't carry the FA's official stamp of approval; the investigation may well be on-going – as is the Bury-Accrington Stanley 'inquiry', now almost six months old.
The Sunday Mirror claimed that the European Sports Security Association (ESSA) and the Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) have announced that 'none of their members found any irregular betting activities and no reason to suspect anything inappropriate in the October 4 Carrow Road clash…'
Indeed, the paper went on to even quote ESSA's secretary general.
“After a thorough investigation, I'm pleased to report that none of our members found anything unusual about the game” said Khalid Ali, the Secretary General of ESSA.
“Our association comprises of the leading online sports book operators in Europe and along with the ABB, who are an associate member, we are working together to contribute to sports being clean and free of corruption.”
The Mail On Sunday also quoted Rams chairman Adam Pearson who likewise quoted the investigations by both ESSA and ABB – and the fact that neither had uncovered anything unduly untoward.
“The report from the watchdogs is a clear sign that this matter is a complete storm in a tea cup,” said Pearson, unlikely to be popping either Dr Ian Gibson or Norman Lamb on his Christmas card list after the pair used Parliamentary privilege to 'out' the Norwich-Derby clash as the one under suspicion.
“The FA now have to investigate and we are confident of the outcome,” added Pearson.
As the whole Bruce Grobbelaar saga demonstrated, proving to any degree of certainty that anything untoward had happened simply on the basis of fluctuations in a half-time spread betting market is fraught with peril.
But with the two clubs due to meet eachother again in less than ten days time, the onus is clearly on the FA to get the matter done and dusted before the rematch at Pride Park on October 28.
Whether this weekend's revelations will spur Soho Square into life, however, remains to be seen. All too often the FA's wheels turn incredibly slowly – to the huge frustration of all concerned.
Roeder was again defending his players to the hilt after the 1-0 defeat at Bristol City – a result that left the Norfolk club perched all-too perilously one place above the drop zone.
“I haven't discussed the matter with my players,” he told reporters. “I don't have to – because they are 100 per cent innocent.”