Man Utd’s spin doctor accuses press of spin

Manchester United’s media director, Phil Townsend, an SJA member, has launched an extraordinary attack on his sportswriter colleagues, accusing them of exaggerating coverage of even the most minor stories from Old Trafford.

“It’s not just us who spin on this side of the fence, it’s the journalists who spin as well, and that’s what creates this cycle of mistrust,” Townsend said at a forum staged in Preston last week.

Townsend referred to former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s farewell address, where he tried to blame many of his administration’s failures on the “feral beasts” of the media. Blair’s colleague, former Mirror man now Times sportswriter Alastair Campbell, also chimed with the theme last week. Townsend, a former press chief at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, said: “If you look at what Blair said last year and what Alastair Campbell said last night, there is a certain amount of truth to it, certainly looking at it from this side of the fence, and we have to have a serious debate about it.”

Townsend said: “Let’s face it — newspapers are dying. Every time you look at the circulations, they are going down. They are combating that by going online, and there are some excellent online newspapers these days responding to that challenge.

“But as a thing to pick up and read, they are more viewspapers than they were before and impact is much more important than checking the facts.”

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