Landlady Karen Murphy’s joy as she beats Sky in TV rights row

IN THE SPOTLIGHT  Landlady Karen Murphy at the Red, White and Blue.   Picture: Paul Jacobs (113509-6)
IN THE SPOTLIGHT Landlady Karen Murphy at the Red, White and Blue. Picture: Paul Jacobs (113509-6)
University of Portsmouth group finance and business students, from left, back row Professor Diego Vazquez-Brust and head of the accounting and financial management subject group at the University of Portsmouth Andrew Wood. 'Front row, Louisa Burton, Faculty of Business and Law dean Professor Gioia Pescetto, Francesca Sharp, Amy Davidson

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PUB landlady Karen Murphy declared ‘a victory for ordinary people’ after taking on the Premier League and Sky – and winning.

Six years ago she launched her battle after being told she could not use a cheap foreign channel to show games at her pub, The Red, White and Blue, in Southsea.

And yesterday the European Court of Justice ruled that Sky’s monopoly over the broadcasting of football matches in the UK was ‘contrary to EU law’.

The decision could trigger a major shake-up for the Premier League and its current exclusive agreements with Sky Sports and ESPN and pave the way to cheaper viewing of foreign broadcasts for fans of top-flight English games.

Mrs Murphy told The News she had endured a sleepless night before the ruling.

‘I still feel nervous – that’s how wound up I was,’ she said.

‘But now I feel relieved and elated, I’m so glad it’s almost over. I’ve had so much support from family, friends and my regulars. I want to thank them all so much.

‘Hopefully this shows that sometimes if you stand up for what you believe in, even if you’re up against huge corporations, you can win.’

The 47-year-old mother-of-two said it had felt like Karen versus Goliath and she was delighted to have come out on top.

Her case was referred to the EU court after she appealed against the decision to prosecute her – and four other Portsmouth pubs – for using a Greek company called Nova to bypass the hefty fees charged by Sky.

She had been taken to court for breaching copyright law and ordered to pay almost £8,000 in fines and costs.

But Mrs Murphy argued that the European Union’s laws on the free movement of trade and services meant she should be entitled to buy her live football from any EU country she wanted, so the case was passed to the EU court for consideration.

Now it will return to the UK’s High Court which experts predict will finally quash her conviction.

The court will need to rule on whether pubs must seek the league’s permission to show foreign broadcasts because elements such as graphics, music and highlights are protected by copyright.

Mrs Murphy said: ‘I’m sure the likes of the FA and Sky will do anything to protect their interests.

‘I don’t know how it will pan out, I hope it doesn’t go back to the way it was as it’s not fair for the customer, it’s not a free market. They shouldn’t have been as greedy in the first place.

‘I paid £800 for a year’s subscription compared to £700 a month for Sky in my small pub. I couldn’t afford that.’

She added: ‘It’s been the battle of the little guy – these corporate people feel they can throw money at things and just win.’

Her solicitor Paul Dixon welcomed the decision, adding: ‘It’s been a long, hard road and she has stuck with it. She kept going because she is a determined lady and because she believes in doing what is right, it’s as simple as that.

‘This will mean other pubs are free to subscribe to foreign satellite services and show the Premier League football that is carried by these services. It will mean a significant cost saving for these pubs.’