FA called to step in over clubs banning reporters
28 July 2015
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, has written to Greg Dyke, chair of the Football Association, asking him to condemn the censoring of the press by certain football clubs.She said:
"I am writing to you because of our concern over a worrying trend among football clubs to ban reporters and instead have their own hand-picked writers to peddle propaganda from the proprietor's point of view."
Newcastle recently banned a reporter from St James' Park and Swindon has said it would no longer allow any news outlets that do not have a commercial deal with it into press conferences. Instead, the club’s owner, Lee Power, says interviews will be conducted by its own “in-house journalist” and distributed via its website and on a social media smartphone app. Power made it clear he is doing this because he believes the Swindon Advertiser's coverage is too negative and he hopes the app will be a money-maker.
Clubs such as Port Vale, Rotherham United, Nottingham Forest and Crawley Town are among those to have placed restrictions on journalists. There have also been problems between Celtic and the media.
The letter said:
"The NUJ believes censorship by football club owners is unacceptable; they should be held to account for the decisions they make and the way they run the club. It is the fans who will be the losers. They can buy the match-day programmes to hear what their team's manager and owner have to say, but they should also be able to hear what independent commentators have to say about their local team.
"As a former journalist, this must be of interest you. I am asking the FA to take up this issue and to use the power in its hands to roundly condemn the censoring of the press and to work with clubs to ensure that football fans have access to a variety of reports on the fortunes and otherwise of their club."