sport news Piracy crimewave is sweeping the nation and breaking the law has become the norm trends now
A cricket club in a middle-class village in the north of England on a freezing Saturday in January would not immediately strike you as a crime scene.
But the clue is in the car park which - despite the start of the season being months away - is packed. Why? Because the owner is one of the estimated hundreds of thousands across the country who has obtained an illegally modified Fire Stick and that means they can show the local EFL football team's away match that afternoon on the big screen.
Word has spread and the bar is doing a roaring trade. If you ask those necking pints over a lucrative few hours, chances are they will tell you that this is a victimless crime.
They would not be alone. Fire Sticks are everywhere. At golf clubs up and down the UK, for example, there are WhatsApp groups where members can place their orders.
For many who would never dream of carrying out a robbery, breaking the law has become the norm. Sources, who did not wish to be named for obvious reasons, have lifted the lid on a crimewave that is sweeping the nation.
Five men, including 36-year-old Mark Gould (pictured as investigators search his South London home in May 2018), were jailed for up to 11 years each for distributing illegal streams
Bodycam footage also shows around 30 linked set-top boxes used for the illegal operation
One supplier tells Mail Sport that for £50 he can provide a stick that will be guaranteed for a whole season. That £50 not only gets you access to all Sky Sports, BT Sport and Amazon matches, it also gets you every EFL match and National League fixture. Business is so good that he cheekily discloses that he has employed a customer service representative, who answers calls from users experiencing issues.
There are a number of options for each sports channel, so if one is experiencing difficulty or is buffering, users simply switch to another. But it is not only football. Some packages, including the £50-a-year stick, deliver everything you could imagine.
Pay-per-view boxing also features along with Sky's various movie channels. Incredibly, films that have only been released at the cinema days earlier are also available, along with the news channels of every local affiliate in the United States.
While the sticks cost the punter £50, the supplier gets his hands on them for around £10, allowing him to pick up a huge profit for very little work.
Indeed, the business can be so lucrative that Mail Sport was told of another seller in the South East who is a full-time waste disposal operative. In the last year, he has had four Caribbean holidays and an extension on his house. Nobody thinks the local council bonus scheme is paying for his new-found lavish lifestyle.
Payment is usually by bank transfer and well away from the prying eyes of the taxman. In some cases, suppliers hand over the sticks ready to use, while in others customers buy their own and are supplied with a