The AIPS card – exclusively available to sports journalists in Britain through membership of the SJA – has gained new status within European football after agreement with the FA Premier League on match accreditation applications.
This development follows protests from foreign reporters over access to Premier League matches. Many have been turned away through lack of the necessary licence, a unique system operating in English football.
Media access in the Premier League (and the lower three divisions in the Football League) is regulated between the Leagues and the clubs. The licensing system was created initially to control commercial photography. This was later extended to include the print media and
Every publication seeking journalistic access must hold a licence for either the season or a one-off match. The licence also demands a public liability insurance.
A major problem for the Premier League – and also for AIPS and bona fide working journalists – is the number of bogus match applications to both the League and its clubs.
Unfortunately, some press departments have used the absence of a season-long licence as an easy excuse with which to reject accreditation applications – contrary to Premier League rules.
Hopefully, such practices have now been effectively outlawed by the new agreement between AIPS and the Premier League.
Journalists based outside the UK wishing to cover Premier League matches on a one-off basis should send applications simultaneously to both the home club and the Premier League press office (fax +44 207 864 9221). The AIPS suggests the following wording:
I wish to apply on behalf of [publication] for written press access in the name of [journalist] for the [home club] v [away club] match on [date]. This application note is both notification to your club and also an application, for Premier League attention, for a single-match licence under the terms of the agreement with AIPS.
The League now holds a list of all AIPS members from Belgium, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Portugal and Spain, and they will be granted a single-match licence immediately upon application. For other countries, the Premier League’s media department has undertaken to check membership status direct with the AIPS Football Commission.
The League will notify both the publication and the club simultaneously within 24 hours. Membership of AIPS will also be taken as meaning that the publication or agency concerned does hold the requisite public liability insurance.
Each club retains the ultimate right to decide whether to accept or reject an accreditation application. However, a certain percentage of each press tribune should, under League rules, be available for foreign media. The League has promised to remind clubs of that obligation.
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For more on AIPS membership, click here.