As many people have already noted, today marks the 110th birthday of Norwich City Football Club.
And as many people have also noted, rarely – if ever – before in those 110 years have the Canaries been in such a state of rude health.
Be it in terms of supporters base, league standing, player and managerial ability, boardroom sense or, crucially, cash in the bank, the Norfolk club are flying.
And the announcement of the latest domestic TV rights deal this week merely put more wind beneath the Canaries’ wings – an eye-watering carve up between BSkyB and new boys BT that took the value of the latest three-year rights package to over £3 billion.
Up 71% on the current deal, from the start of the 2013-14 season every live game will be worth £6.6 million; the club that finishes 20th that season is now expected to earn more by way of Premier League TV cash than champions Manchester City did this – in excess of £60 million.
Happy, happy days if you’re Grant Holt’s agent, for example. Or, indeed, Norwich City’s lenders. And, of course, for the board whose ‘seven-year’ plan of delivering a self-sufficient football club is now just 38 games away from being delivered three years ahead of schedule.
It is quite some trough to have your nose stuck firmly into given those numbers are for the domestic market alone particularly when, like everyone else in this neck of the woods, I have every faith that Chris Hughton is more than capable of keeping the Canaries firmly where the action is.
City are odds-on to celebrate their 111th birthday next summer in even finer fettle.
But there is a price to be paid here – one that is likely to be almost unique to Norwich City supporters.
And it comes via the involvement of BT in feather-bedding your club’s financial future.
“BT said it would launch a new football-focused channel to carry the games,” the BBC report revealed.
“It will offer new interactive features when supplied over BT’s fibre network and we will look to distribute it on other platforms,” the telecoms firm said.
When supplied over BT’s fibre network… Ah, yes. Coming to a rural county like Norfolk when, exactly?
Read this, please.
It is The Observer’s look at the flip-side to BT’s deal with the Premier League as rural Cumbria fight for their right to decent broadband; for their ability to enjoy the same ‘interactive features’ as anyone in London, Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham might enjoy.
In the view of Cumbria County Council neither BT nor their rivals Fujitsu are delivering; and now BT is whipping £738 million out of its pension-strained coffers to keep the likes of Willie McKay in stables.
‘Ultimately, what BT has chosen to do is invest its money where the competition is. It is laying fibre in Virgin Media areas, and investing in TV in order to keep its own broadband customers from jumping ship to Sky. In Cumbria, nobody is lining up to build a deluxe fibre network…’
As they’re not in Norfolk.
The money that could have gone towards lighting up Stratton Strawless and bringing that community within reach of the digital revolution is going instead to keeping the people of Islington in red buttons.
When I’m not running round after all things MyFootballWriter, I wear an Addiply hat; popping up in various corners of the US – listening and learning as to what’s going on in this digital world of ours; be it in Austin, Texas, of Berkeley, California.
You understand ever more the transformative power of the web; just how vital it is for our kids to grow up in Norfolk as ‘Children of the Light’; not condemned to a life of darkness sat the end of a copper wire.
Because if connections across this county don’t improve in time for the start of the 2013-2014 season, there’s going to need to be some tough bargaining done within 000s of Norfolk households.
For those of us left out in the cold – left with no more than a basic 2mb link to the outside world – that will support, one lap-top hooked up to a BBC iPlayer. The fight will not be over ever finding the red button; more stopping the Mrs searching for a holiday and the kids from being on Facebook when City are on the end of the wire.
To my mind, it is a big, big issue – arguably one of the biggest facing Norfolk as a community. One not made any easier by last week’s TV deal announcement. And of rather more importance than whether Grant’s ‘Mr Ten Per Cent’ gets his 12% off a third year for his star client.
Of course, Norfolk County Council might have a cunning plan up their sleeve; they might know better than their counterparts in Cumbria. Perhaps Norfolk offers one less mountain to climb when it comes to fibre roll-out. Perhaps.
Me? I’m pinning my hopes on the answer coming from on high. That the Bishop and the Diocese of Norwich might yet be delivering ways and means for you all to watch the footie.
He’s a smart man, the Bishop.
Happy birthday, Norwich City Football Club.