Tonight’s League Cup match between Leeds United and Liverpool at Elland Road will go ahead without any photographers from most of the leading news agencies in attendance.
Leeds v Liverpool was a fixture which until recently would have been one of the highlights of any domestic football season, attracting blanket media coverage. With Leeds now playing in League 1, the game would have still attracted widespread interest for a potential cup upset.
However, the Press Association, Thomson Reuters, Getty Images, Associated Press, the European Press-Photo Agency and Agence-France Presse were all banned from attending the televised game due to a policy introduced by the Yorkshire club at the start of this season which limits agency photographers at each match to two, Action Images and Varleys, a company based at Elland Road.
Leeds’ agency ban prompted PA to issue a not-for publication advisory to all national newspaper and provincial titles to alert editors, many of whose papers and websites would rely on the PA service, to the absence of any pictures.
“This is an unfortunate and regrettable situation and we have been doing our utmost to resolve the matter,” PA Sport said in a formal statement. “However, despite repeated requests and a meeting between Press Association Sport and the clubâ€™s CEO Shaun Harvey, Leeds United have kept the ban in place.
“We will continue to have a dialogue with Leeds United in an attempt to reverse their decision, but if they do not, then we will consider our position regarding future coverage of the club.”
While national newspaper photographers were able to attend the game, newspapers have protested that their to material from varied sources is substantially reduced, with some suspicious of Leeds’ motives behind the ban.
A number of titles and agencies have written to the club, inviting its management to abandon the policy and to make the club aware that this might cause individual editors to rethink coverage plans.