Five months is a long time in politics, broadcasting and even football. Back in May, Aston Villa missed out on Europe, West Bromwich Albion languished in mid-table obscurity, Wolverhampton Wanderers only just survived and Walsall just about avoided relegation, unlike the unfortunate Birmingham City. It’s not such a funny old game.
As the last football season lurched to its disappointing end, this humble blog attempted to draw attention to one woman’s battle against the might of the Murdoch empire. Pub landlady of the Red, White and Blue in Southsea, Karen Murphy decided that she was not going to be pushed around by BSkyB and the Football League. Having been sued for breach of copyright for daring to screen a football match in her pub, she took her case to the European Court of Justice and today has seen justice prevail. It would seem that media tycoons and dodgy football moguls do not own the intellectual copyright of 22 men kicking a pig’s bladder about.
Back in May, who would have ever thought that by July, Andy Coulson, Neil Wallis and Rebekah Brooks would be under arrest and Murdoch’s flagship, the News of the World, would be scuppered and left as a wreck at the bottom of Portsmouth harbour. Rupert and the boy James still face some awkward questions regarding their probity and their understanding of what telling the truth means and it now seems that anything they touch is tarnished. Court rulings, however, mean nothing to a family that buys and sells governments and they will be back to give Mrs Murphy a good kicking.
This whole affair is riddled with delicious irony. Oily Cameron and the half-wit Osborne have, this week, appointed themselves champions of small businesses and wish to forget the taking of the Murdoch shilling. One doubts that they will be nipping in to Karen`s pub for a swift half and a bit of congratulation. Euro-sceptics from both the right and left, after years of barking at the moon in outrage at EU law, are now strangely but mercifully silent given that Europe has defended the underdog. The men that run football, happy to appoint an England manager with a basic grasp of English that is more impressive than his tactical ability, will be furious that premiership games played and managed by men with names like Carlos, Arsene, Roberto and Didier will be watched throughout Europe. Club owners like the Glazers, Abramovich and Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan will curse EU legislation as they see all that lovely BSkyB money disappearing down the necks of drinkers in the Red, White and Blue.
The sweetest irony is, however, the fact that Mrs Murphy bought her de-coder from Greece. With most of northern Europe excreting breeze blocks over the Hellenic economy and the banks that caused the trouble in the first place about to close down an entire nation state, it only seems fair that Panathinaikos should be awarded an automatic place in the Champions League final. Most of their players are actually Greek, but the coaching staff is Portuguese.
Ah yes, it might be best not to mention Portugal, or Spain, or Italy, or Ireland or, the way things are going, the United Kingdom. If the finance ministers of bailed out countries need any advice on economic strategy, procurement, fairness and value for money, they could start by asking a pub landlady from Portsmouth. Perhaps Osborne should nip in for a swift half after all.