By Anton Rippon
In the Potteries, one club has taken to banning reporters and photographers from the local newspaper that not so long ago was leading the campaign to save that very same club.
Michael Baggaley, a reporter from Stoke-based The Sentinel, and Mark Scott, a photographer with the paper, were refused press facilities at Port Vale after the regional daily carried a story about a delay in the arrival of limited edition third-change shirts at the club.
An editorial in The Sentinel said: “On Saturday morning we published what we consider to be a balanced and fair article which we hoped would answer fans’ concerns.
“However, as Vale chairman Norman Smurthwaite had warned on Friday, as a result of his enquiries Mike is now banned from the press box and press conferences and our photographers won’t be allowed to take photographs at Vale Park.
“We make absolutely no apology for asking what Mr Smurthwaite perceives as negative questions. That, occasionally, is the job of a local newspaper and something the Vale chairman has been told many times by many different people.
“However, it seems the newspaper which helped to expose the wrong-doing of a previous board of directors (at a time when other media outlets weren’t interested) and fought hard ¬– both publicly and behind the scenes – to help save Vale when it was placed into administration, isn’t welcome any more.”
Baggaley paid to sit in the stand to report Vale’s 2-1 win over Gillingham but the paper carried no photographs of the game.
Port Vale has told The Sentinel that it will be welcome to full press access if it pays the club £10,000 – the same fee that local radio pays for live broadcasting rights – but, to no one’s surprise, the newspaper won’t be taking up the offer.
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