As final whistle blows in High Court fight it’s Landlady: 1, League: 0

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CELEBRATING with regulars in her pub Karen Murphy felt like a weight had been finally lifted after she won her six-year battle with the Premier League.

The landlady of the Red, White and Blue pub, in Fawcett Road, Southsea, said it had been a long and difficult fight but if she could go back to the start she would do it all again.

Ms Murphy has been fighting for permission to show League matches in her pub without paying the hefty fees demanded by Sky.

Now the High Court has quashed the conviction she received in 2006, when she was prosecuted for breaching copyright law for using a broadcaster not authorised by the League, Greek channel Nova.

‘I’m absolutely relieved,’ she said. ‘It is finally the end of the road for me.

‘It has been a real struggle – six years is a long time, but it has all been worth it. I would do it all over again.

‘I never dreamed at the beginning it would go this far, but someone had to fight the good fight and I’m glad it was me.’

Karen said the case has had a huge impact but, despite now being frequently recognised in the street, it hadn’t left her a different person.

‘It hasn’t really changed my life, apart from all the media interest,’ she said.

‘The taxi driver on the way to the court knew who I was and what I was doing, but I don’t mind that, because these people recognise me for something many of them believe in as well.

‘Last time the court made a ruling I had messages of support from all around the world, maybe the same will happen again.’

When asked if she would now resume broadcasting matches using her Greek Nova decoder she said: ‘Watch this space. If I can, I will.’

Karen and friends raised a glass to her victory at a party in the pub last night, with karaoke, lights and a smoke machine.

She added: ‘I’m knackered but I’m determined to have a good night to celebrate.’

Yesterday’s judgement follows a historic victory in the European Court of Justice which ruled that an exclusive system of licences for the broadcasting of football matches in different EU countries is ‘contrary to EU law’.

But the judge in yesterday’s case made clear that many other complex issues regarding the wider legality of screening matches – such as using copyright-protected material including the Premier League’s anthem and logos – would have to be decided ‘at a later date’.

After the hearing the League said it would still seek to prosecute anyone trying to bypass their arrangement with Sky ‘in both the civil and criminal courts’.

There will now be a further hearing to determine the amount of costs to be awarded in the long-running case – and it is believed the final sum will run into hundreds of thousands of pounds.