23 April 2014

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Football club bans journalists from vox pops at ground

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.

10 Comments

  1. furryoldgreybadger

    What a sad thing it is when a football club looks for any excuse to stop supporters having a say on football related issues. The management at the club really have lost the plot!

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  2. voxyidea, east

    What a sad loss to real journalism. Vox pops are desperate space fillers and signify nothing but “need to fill”.

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  3. Howard Brinton, Dorset.

    Free speech is becoming a problem in society to the commercially
    Powerful.
    People holding home made signs wishing NigelAdkins thanks and good luck were told to not display them at st Mary stadium or to leave the ground.
    Saints fans( been one since 1967), have not been treated so poorly
    Ever.
    Free speech is a premier league issue because it is more important than football or power crazy chairmen.
    Do the football powers support free speech or a Mussolini style junta
    Coz Cortese needs to understand free speech is very important, trying to stop the club being critiscised is a Canute like exercise and likely to lead to a non renewal of my season ticket.

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  4. Pen Is Mightier

    The sad part is do you think the Saints fans are bothered? Not at all.
    As long as their team is in the Premier League and avoiding relegation they are happy.
    The Southern Daily Echo have been banned for two years now and Matt Le Tissier and Lawrie McMenemy long-time critics of Cortese.
    Do the fans complain about it? Not a chance.
    Says it all about blinkered football fans.

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  5. Bantams at Wembley

    Ah the old health and safety excuse !
    If you prang your car into someone on a council owned car park, the council is not liable, you are.
    If a photographer bashes someone over the head with his camera, then he’s/she’s liable. Taken to its logical conclusion photographers (or any worker) would be banned from every bit of land in the country,as the owner would be responsible for any accident.
    Southampton FC should look at a club which respects its supporters – try Bradford City as just one example

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  6. Chris Youett, Coventry

    Somebody needs to take aside the suits who run Southampton FC and quietly but forcefully tell them that they need the goodwill of the media more than we need them.

    It has always been possible to get reports, pix, vox pops, etc without having to go via the suits. Southampton’s claim that it is a health & safety issue is corporate bollox. Most people who hid behind H&S have never been on a course, let along read The Brown Book.

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  7. onlooker

    just do it in the pubs around the ground for god’s sake!

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  8. Fencehopper

    “Somebody needs to take aside the suits who run Southampton FC and quietly but forcefully tell them that they need the goodwill of the media more than we need them.”

    Indeed, Southampton have been on a downward spiral since the ban came into force…oh, hang on.

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  9. saintlurker, Brighton

    Pen Is Mightier seems to know an awful lot about Saints fans when he obviously isn’t one himself. I won’t waste my time arguing with him as he has clearly used this section simply to post a fan-bashing comment, but he really ought to grow up if he thinks ‘the Saints fans’ are not bothered. There are vast numbers of ‘the Saints fans’ everywhere, Pen Is, and like supporters of every club, some are ‘bothered’ and some are not by arbitrary sanctions imposed on journalists by football clubs. And it doesn’t just happen at Southampton FC.

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