ANTON RIPPON on the latest twist to what passes for “media relations” at a Premier League club
When you consider that the last time Newcastle United won anything of note in English football, Sir Winston Churchill had just resigned as Prime Minister, petrol was 4s 6d (that’s 22½p for you youngsters) a gallon (that’s what we used to call about 5 litres), and Ruth Ellis was about to become the last woman to be hanged in Britain, you would think that the Magpies from Gallowgate would be keen for some positive headlines.
Oh no. Instead, Newcastle United continue to upset sports journalists left, right and centre.
On Wednesday, in the Alice in Wonderland world that is Newcastle United’s relationship with media, everything appeared to be turned on its head.
The hitherto unwelcome Simon Bird, of the Daily Mirror, was allowed into the press conference arranged to “unveil” Steve McClaren as Newcastle’s new manager, while last year’s “preferred media partner” at Newcastle, The Sun, was excluded along with everyone else except Sky Sports.
The Sun’s David Coverdale tweeted: “Steve McClaren gagged from speaking to any media outlet other than @SkySportsNewsHQ and @DailyMirror – #nufc’s preferred media partners… So much for a fresh start at #nufc. Their new manager isn’t allowed to speak to any media outlet not in bed with Mike Ashley.”
Matt Lawton, the Daily Mail’s chief sports reporter, tweeted: “Steve McClaren needs to show some balls here and demand all media outlets are invited to his unveiling. Already looks weak against Ashley.”
The Mail’s North East football correspondent Craig Hope said: “There will be no independent media interviews with new NUFC boss Steve McClaren. Preferred partners (Sky & Daily Mirror) only.”
The Telegraph‘s Luke Edwards, a veteran when it comes to being banned by Newcastle United, tweeted: “A little peculiar if #nufc only allowed Steve McClaren to speak to media organisations they deemed to be ‘friendly’ today. Surely not?!”
Here at sportsjournalists.co.uk we’ve done our bit to record the goings-on on Tyneside. Between October 2013 and December 2014 journalists from The Chronicle, along with sister titles The Journal and the Sunday Sun, were banned from St James’ Park after the club objected to their coverage of a protest march by supporters to highlight disquiet over Mike Ashley’s ownership of the club.
In July last year, the access situation had been reversed, with the Mirror‘s Bird the one complaining when The Sun had what was described as an “access package”.
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