The National Union of Journalists has backed a regional sportswriter’s call for the Football Association to ban football clubs from placing media bans on news outlets.
Blackpool Gazette footballer writer Will Watt called on the FA to outlaw the practice that has seen several clubs exclude newspapers – including his own – from attending press conferences, interviewing players and managers, and reporting on matches.
Earlier this month, Swindon Town extended its ban on the Swindon Advertiser to all media in favour of a smartphone app, while Newcastle United, Port Vale, Southampton and Crawley Town have all frozen out their local newspapers recently, over perceived slights or due to new commercial media arrangements.
Now the NUJ has written to FA chairman Greg Dyke, who once worked as a reporter on the Hillingdon Mirror and Slough Evening Mail before his high-profile career in television, asking him to condemn press censorship meted out by football clubs.
NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet wrote: “I am writing to you because of our concern over a worrying trend among football clubs to ban reporters and instead have their own hand-picked writers to peddle propaganda from the proprietor’s point of view.
“The NUJ believes censorship by football club owners is unacceptable; they should be held to account for the decisions they make and the way they run the club.
“It is the fans who will be the losers. They can buy the match-day programmes to hear what their team’s manager and owner have to say, but they should also be able to hear what independent commentators have to say about their local team.
“As a former journalist, this must be of interest you. I am asking the FA to take up this issue and to use the power in its hands to roundly condemn the censoring of the press and to work with clubs to ensure that football fans have access to a variety of reports on the fortunes and otherwise of their club.”
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UPCOMING SJA EVENTS
Mon Sep 14: SJA Autumn Golf Day, Muswell Hill Golf Club
Tue Oct 6: Entry forms for 2015 SJA British Sports Journalism Awards published
Thu Dec 17: SJA British Sports Awards, sponsored by The National Lottery