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NUJ calls on the Premier League to rethink plans to cut match coverage to two photographers

27 May 2020

The National Union of Journalists, together with the British Press Photographers Association (BPPA), has called on the Premier League to rethink its plans for restarting games with only two independent photographers covering matches.

The plans laid down in the Premier Leagues “Project Restart” have been revealed in press reports, but the League has not yet shared any further details or met with photographer organisations.

Discussions taking place with clubs this week will reach crucial decisions on how to proceed with the rest of the season.

Usually, a minimum of 23 photographers would cover a Premier League game. Project Restart proposes just two, with slots most likely to go to large agencies or wires, resulting in a small selection of images becoming available to the public. In a closed stadium with no fans present, this seems arbitrarily low and utterly insufficient to provide varied and full coverage of matches. It is easily possible to accommodate many more photographers in safety.

Natasha Hirst, chair of the NUJ Photographers’ Council said:

“Photographers’ livelihoods are at risk if the Premier League does not find solutions to increase coverage of the games. Sports photographers are highly skilled professionals who are relied upon to produce varied and vibrant images that sports fans are accustomed to. We are deeply concerned that the Premier League has not engaged with the bodies that represent photographers, broadcasters and reporters as they have developed their plans for Project Restart.
“The union has been working with the BPPA in consultation with experienced sports photographers and has put together a set of solutions to ensure good coverage of the games while meeting high standards of health and safety during the coronavirus pandemic. This is an opportunity for the Premier League to set a positive precedent for long-term sports coverage and we call on them to meet with us to discuss the way forward.”

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:

“I have written to Richard Masters, the Premier League’s chief executive, asking him to discuss this important matter with us. A range of sporting bodies are now considering putting games and events back on and it is in their interest, as well as our photographer members, to ensure the broadest possible coverage for fans, even more so if the events are behind closed doors. This will also have an impact on sports reporters and film crews – some of the first journalists to lose work because of Covid-19. We need to get sports and sports journalism back in business, operating with the necessary health and safety measures.”

Tags: , photographers, photographers’ council, premier league, richard masters, football, sports journalists, covid-19, coronavirus