Coffee House

Newcastle United FC: a local fight for freedom of the press

30 October 2013

10:38 AM

30 October 2013

10:38 AM

Up north, there’s an intriguing battle going on between the local press and Newcastle United. The football club has declared war on three local newspapers over their coverage of a rally this weekend, protesting at the club’s management.In an extraordinary press release, Newcastle United’s head of media stated because ‘the turnout at the march renders your extraordinary coverage completely disproportionate’, all reporters from the Newcastle Journal, Chronicle and Sunday Sun are personae non gratae:

‘…the club’s owner, director of football, board of directors and team manager have reached a unanimous decision that the three NCJ Media titles, The Chronicle, The Journal and Sunday Sun, will not be permitted access to any media facilities, press conferences and player interviews at Newcastle United indefinitely and with immediate effect’

Regardless of whether you agree with how paper covered the march — see this report from the BBC if you want another summary — they are being blackmailed into writing positive stories about the club. For papers like the Newcastle Journal and Chronicle, covering the happenings of their local football club is their bread and butter. They can fill their pages with this fight for the next few days but what happens if the club doesn’t back down?


At least for now, the papers are standing strong. The editor of the Newcastle Chronicle Darren Thwaites said of the ban:

‘We may be banned but we won’t be gagged. We all want Newcastle United to be successful but it would be nonsense to pretend the fans are happy about what’s going on behind the scenes. We’re devoting more pages to Newcastle United than ever before – both online and in print – and we’ll continue to do so.

‘It’s important for fans to know that our coverage is informed and independent. We’ve no intention of allowing the club to dictate what we can and can’t print.’

This kind of fight is nothing new — see recent examples at Manchester and Southampton — but the club should keep in mind that the press often tend to be the victors when football bosses get too big for their boots. For NUFC fans, it’s another example of people at their beloved club throwing their weight around for the sake of it, and this time the local press has sadly become unwitting target.

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Show comments
  • sonali joshi

    Great post thanks for info!

    local football clubs

  • Count Boso

    The three newspapers are in reality just one now

    • womblekin

      “The morning one”, “The evening one” (out by 11am) and “the Sunday one”
      All of which are aimed at the lowest common denominator in a city where we have a fairly high proportion of dozy barstuds and people who can’t count above the number of fingers & toes they have.

      The Evening Chronicle in particular is regarded locally as a complete rag, and doubtless the lack of direct access to the club won’t affect its ability to just invent a story as it has done for many years.

      I particularly hate the Chronicle for the headline – on the occasion early in the last decade when NUFC tried to sign a Dutch lad called Boudewijn Zenden: “ZENDEN OUT AN SOS”. Really?

  • DWWolds

    They seem to be taking a leaf out of the book of Billy Davis at Forest. He too has got the hump as far as the press are concerned.

  • Smithersjones2013

    Hmmmmm so the local papers get no official news? So what. That won’t stop them getting lots of inside information or stop them from being able to comment on the games (they can watch the TV coverage).

    The thing is not having a relationship with the club means that they have nothing to lose and therefore can be completely honest about the club (e.g. the farce about Joe Kinnear’s non-job as Director Of Football ). All in all they should be able to make it increasingly uncomfortable for the club.

  • Andy Hill

    Seriously the whole management needs to change.

    If they think banning the papers from press conferences is going to stem the tide of anger against the management they’re more deluded than I thought.

    The banning of these papers is going to be taken as the papers being seen as martyrs to the cause.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    Football hooliganism is the largest component of UK Trash Culture. Any country with a backbone would have cracked down on these criminals decades ago, even if it meant banning football.

    • Dean

      Wow, don’t even know where to start with this. Look back at the Thatcher era policies on issue this for your so-called ‘crackdown’ Football hooliganism is a shadow of what it once was. it had nothing to do with the draconian policies brought in by Thatcher in the 80s (football fans ID cards where you could be liable to a 3 year prison sentence if you could not produce your ID when asked by the police) which viewed every fan as a criminal.

      A government ‘crackdown’ simply led to more resentment towards the police (who mirrored the sentiment) and the government from fans, the grieving families in Liverpool have enough evidence to support this.

      What actually started to sort this out is self-policing by fans, clubs, enlightened journalism and a police-force (eventually) who realised they needed to work with fans, not just bang them up in prison!

      Obviously idiots punching horses is an issue, but considering the millions who go to watch footballl every week in this country it is a very small minority who occassionally do these stupid things.

      • Hexhamgeezer

        Correct. JTSB’s 1st line definitely makes my Top 10 Misinformed Observations about the UK by a Spec blogger 2013 Award. I’d guess the last time he set foot here was around 1986.

        • Jackthesmilingblack

          “Here” being the dis”United Kingdom, presumably? I did look in a year ago, but didn’t venture north of Oxford. Does that count? It’s all bush north of Birmingham.
          But that’s a Brit for you. Always jumping to a negative assumption on literally zero evidence. I put it down to a shallow ego that hates being up-staged. Namely, the, “What’s mine is great; what’s yours is rubbish” mind set which I attribute to low self-esteem and an inverted inferiority complex. And obviously a basic immaturity so
          prevalent in a nation of bullies. It may be hard for you to realise this; not being able to see the wood from the trees, but from a distance it’s painfully apparent that you’re really `orrible people. The contrast comes into focus when
          you start to live among kinder more helpful people. Your attitude towards others improves, while the opposite applies to you risk averse losers washed up on the UK beach who are constantly at each other’s throats. And I say this with all due respect.
          Football hooligans shamed Britain in Europe and beyond for literally decades. And within UK the “football specials” facilitated the confrontation of rival fans that communicated through violence. Any decent police force would have made them see the error of their ways. The half-hearted measures taken to control these violent, xenophobic, homophobic, racists criminals were merely tinkering at the
          edges. The only real answer would have been to ban football, but even Thatcher pulled back from that, probably because of the money at stake coupled with a real risk of civil insurrection. Trash culture had become the mainstream culture. Although football’s a massive export, football hooliganism coupled with public drunkenness are the major components of Trash Culture UK. And the
          MSM and in particular trashy tabloids with their massive coverage of anything football related, carry a share of culpability. Football’s excessive influence in the popular culture is worthy of a Top 10 ranking on your, “Emigrate, reasons to” list. That’s the truth and it’s about time you heard some.
          Jack, Japan Alps

          • Hexhamgeezer

            ‘Always jumping to a negative assumption on literally zero evidence’ Pot kettle?

            When God invented the word supposition he had something like your little diatribe in mind.

            You assume an awful lot and know very little and I won’t be taking any lessons from ex-pat surrender monkeys.

            • Jackthesmilingblack

              Truth hurts, huh?

              • Hexhamgeezer

                A truly feeble response Jacky baby.

            • Toby Esterházy

              How can he be an expat if he is obviously never a Briton to start with?

              • Hexhamgeezer

                True….so he’s just a WUM ,or troll to use the current vernacular?.

  • leoinlisbon

    The journalists are ‘being blackmailed into writing positive stories about the club.’
    This is more than a little overwrought.
    Journalists being banned is part of football’s rich tapestry. It allows the ‘persecuted’ journalists to strike a pose as the defenders of the fans. It is rarely a case of football bosses getting ‘too big for their boots.’ It is usually, as in this case, failing bosses hitting out wildly in blind panic.

    PS Using the phrase ‘beloved club’ should lead to the journalist concerned being banned sin die.

  • Hexhamgeezer

    The key figure here, and the only one of any relevance, is the owner Mike Ashley. He takes his Sports Direct modus operandi into an entirely different type of business and it isn’t working. In the last year or so there has been a long list of acts and statements that are almost calculated to insult folks’ intelligence. He recently sold a tranche of SD shares months after promising he would give at least a year before any more sales. He is a law unto himself who is successful in business but whose business model for Newcastle can only result in stagnation at best and relegation at worse.

    Using the word ‘unanimous’ in the context of an NUFC statement is hilarious. Ashley is unanimous with himself and that’s all he needs to be and he and we know it.

    Incidentally, the fan in the picture was sent down for a year last week for punching the horse after the home derby last year.