Sportsdesk Comment: Toon’s press ban is a farce

Sportsdesk Comment
Sportsdesk Comment

The never ending circus that is Newcastle United created another stir this week when they banned their three local papers.

Personally, I was far from surprised to hear the news. After all, it’s been a couple of months since owner Mike Ashley has done something controversial.

This might just somehow pip his appointment of footballing dinosaur Joe Kinnear as their director of football in the summer.

A letter from Newcastle’s head of media Wendy Taylor to Chronicle editor Darren Thwaites read: “It is evident from the scale and prominence you devoted to it (a fan’s protest march) that your agenda was the pursuit of sales based on an anti-Newcastle United stance, rather than a fair and balanced approach”

It’s not the first time a football club has had a run-in with their local press and it most certainly won’t be the last.

I strongly feel football clubs really need to take a good, long look at themselves sometimes.

We experienced problems, albeit on a much smaller scale, here recently with Scarborough Athletic.

I wrote a column earlier in the season following a farcical statement that was released by the club, which I thought was fair enough, and I have been brandished as having an agenda against the club ever since.

My colleague Martin Dowey has endured problems recently too, and it just seems to me clubs need to look at the bigger picture.

Ninety per-cent of the stories local press run on their patches’ football clubs are what I would describe as positive.

Every now and then a gem of a story arises and it is the job of the local reporter to let the fans know what is going on.

We are not an extension of the club’s media department, at the end of the day we’re here to sell newspapers and get people clicking on our website, not to promote the club in a positive light all the time.

Yes, we don’t always get it right, but a football club shouldn’t dictate how they want a local newspaper to cover their news.

Controversy and bad news sells newspapers, and Taylor’s letter naively goes on to ask the question why stories coming from the club’s charitable foundation didn’t get as much coverage as the fan’s protest against the owner.

It’s all good and well Ashley toying with the fans and upsetting the applecart every now and then.

He has put big money into the club and is entitled to do as he wishes.

But when you make bizarre decisions, don’t then turn round and ban the press when they report on them.