A football club locked in a long-running dispute with a regional daily has now stopped journalists from conducting vox pops with fans on land outside its ground.
Southampton Football Club prevented reporters from speaking to fans on its land outside St Mary’s Stadium ahead of Monday night’s match against Everton, because of “health and safety guidelines”.
On Monday night, staff from the club asked journalists from a number of media organisations to leave the car park area and the terrace area in front of the reception and player’s entrance when they began to talk to fans.
The move means other journalists have been partly hit with a ban which has affected Southampton daily the Southern Daily Echo for the last few years.
Its reporters and photographers are banned from the club’s stadium and training ground, so they are unable to attend home matches.
Echo editor-in-chief Ian Murray said journalists at the title carried out vox pops with fans elsewhere because of the ban on them entering the club’s land.
He said: “We spoke to lots of fans outside the club’s zone of influence. It’s all very silly really as you can’t prevent fans from having a say and trying to do so just makes you look intolerant of other viewpoints.
“It looks as though other media, including the BBC, are simply getting a taste of what we have had to put up with for some time.”
In 2010 the club barred all press photographers from attending its ground and instead said newspapers should purchase images from its official photographer, leading to newspapers finding unusual ways around the ban.
The club later quietly lifted the ban for other media, but it has remained in force for the Echo and its reporters are also barred.
The paper was previously hit with a blanket ban in 2009, preventing it from attending matches, covering events involving its players and even attending functions as guests in its hospitality lounges but this was later resolved.
Last year, the club denied claims by the chief sports reporter at Portsmouth’s The News, Neil Allen, that he was refused entry to the press box for a match between Portsmouth and Southampton.
Southampton Football Club spokesman Jordan Sibley said the restriction on where vox pops could be carried out had been in force for a long time.
He said this was down to the stadium’s health and safety guidelines because the club would be liaible if a photographer with a camera injured someone on its land.
But he added there was public land at the front of the stadium where journalists could carry out vox pops.