Given everything is pretty rosy right now down Carrow Road, it would seem churlish to throw in a tiny fly in the ointment.
Particularly given that the Canaries find themselves once more knocking at the door of the Land of Milk and Honey; eyes suddenly fixed on the £60 million prize that is elevation to the Premier League.
That’s £60 million minimum.
But given that the greater majority of my life these days is spent being a fully-fledged new media ponce, the actions of one Portsmouth landlady have made for very interesting reading of late.
And, I strongly suspect, nothing will come of it all anyway; that big business will win – be it BSkyB or the Premier League, both of whom may come to regret tangling with Karen Murphy, landlady of the Red, White And Blue pub in Portsmouth.
She, it appears, has long taken exception to the £1,000 a month that Sky charges pub owners for a subscription to show live Premier League games in their boozer.
That figure can be as much as £3,000 in big city centre venues; £600-£800 in smaller, rural pubs. Which, in these current economic times, is a serious amount of money when drinkers are in such short supply.
As, indeed, are pubs. Long gone are the days when Norwich could boast a pub for every day of the year, let alone a church for every week.
So the redoubtable Ms Murphy gets herself a Greek decoder and keeps her punters happy with live Premier League games beamed in via Greece. For a fraction of the price the man from Sky demands.
Sky get the hump; it goes to court… and Ms Murphy wins a landmark ruling when the Advocate General – a Juliane Kolkott – rules that restricting the sale and viewing of sports rights to one country was “contrary to European Union law”.
There’s much web theory here; that just as FaceBook and Twitter and WikiLeaks and all the rest of the current ‘gang’ recognise no international borders, neither – in theory – should Premier League TV rights.
Why should punters in Portsmouth, Norwich or wherever get fleeced for £1,000 a month, when punters in Athens can see the same game for a fraction of the cost?
As The Guardian reported, Kolkott felt that in her opinion the “exclusivity of the rights in question have the effect of partitioning the internal market into quite separate national markets, something which constitutes a serious impairment of freedom to provide services.” S
o a pub in Portsmouth should pay the same as a bar in Athens to watch the same live game. That, to me, seems fair.
And, more importantly, it starts to take the side of the supporter against the likes of the Premier League and BSkyB – which has long, long been overdue.
For football’s house desperately need to be brought to order; before the madness engulfs us all – or rather ensures that the only Manchester United fan that can regularly afford to watch their team is the one sat in a Sports Bar in Dubai. Not the Dog And Duck in Salford.
This last transfer window proved the disconnect that exists between the Premier League in this country and the average Joe and Jane in the street.
Fernando Torres’ £50 million transfer to Chelsea grabbed the headlines, of course.
This afternoon and Blackburn and Darwen Council became the latest to lay out its spending plans for the forthcoming year; 1,000 job losses, three out of five adult day care centres closed, potholes to be repaired on main roads only, 20 play areas closing, 16 subsidised bus services cut…
All part of a ‘plan’ to slash up to £28 million off their budget; £7 million less than it cost Liverpool to whip Andy Carroll out of Newcastle on the back of Torres’ exit. Carroll agreed a five-and-a-half year deal in the process.
The reality of life on the streets of Blackburn and Darwen is a familiar story outside anywhere bar the London Borough of Richmond, it seems.
And one that, no doubt, will be repeated in both Norwich and Norfolk over the forthcoming weeks. Few of those feeling the full brunt of these tough times will be able to afford to spend the night in the Dog And Duck watching Rovers live away to Chelsea on a Sunday afternoon.
You wonder what it will do to season ticket sales at Ewood Park; what fresh sacrifices families will be forced to make in order to get their seat at the game every week.
Clearly, the prospect of the Canaries digging their noses into that on-going trough of Premiership money is what keeps the bankers sweet; it’s that the helps the Canary board steer the club off the rocks of financial disaster… ‘Look, how close we are…’
So, in one sense, the news that one pub landlady from Portsmouth could be sticking a bleeding great pin into the bubble of Premier League excess should be a cause for real concern; where might it all lead if the next TV rights package fails to yield the current bonanza for all but the down-trodden supporter?
Where will Andy Carroll ever get his next five-and-a-half-year deal from if we’re all watching our footie of a Greek decoder?
But there is a large part of me cheering Ms Murphy on; hoping that neither her nerve nor her finances falter as we all head to a potentially landmark ruling at the European Courts of Justice later this spring.
Football needs to return to its roots; for all-too many, it is all they have got; Saturday afternoon was their time to escape from the bitter realities of 2011 living.
Sky need to be careful; as do the Premier League.
It may well be a ‘global’ brand; with ‘global’ rights and values. But the communities of Blackburn and Norwich, Sunderland and Portsmouth have rights to.
A right to a fair deal when it comes to watching their favourite, local football team.