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Football reporting could face major changes

There could be major changes in the way sports writers gain access to football ground press boxes next season – but sports departments seem to know little about it.

The Premier and Nationwide leagues are having talks about a new accreditation system for football writers covering matches.

From August, reporters might be forced to provide published evidence of written work and join a new organisation, Football DataCo, before being allowed into press boxes.

But when HoldtheFrontPage contacted the sports departments of some papers that cover Premiership teams, staff seemed unaware of the proposed changes.

The Coventry Evening Telegraph and the Leicester Mercury said they were aware of the discussions but were going to ‘wait and see’.

But the sports department of the Ipswich Evening Star was well aware of the plans.

Sports editor John Horne said: “I’m not surprised that there’s going to be a change in the system. It seems to be a matter of logistics. Every week I look around the Ipswich Town press box and there’s not one empty seat.

“Many of the people, I think ‘I’ve not seen you before’ and they can’t all be genuine journalists. It’s a good idea.”

At a meeting this week, newspaper and magazine organisations were asked by the leagues to co-operate in the new system.

Representatives from the NUJ, Newspaper Society, Football Writers Association, Society of Editors, Periodical Publishers’ Association and the Newspaper Publishers’ Association were present – but not all were enthusiastic about the proposed changes.

Society of Editors director, Bob Satchwell said: “The traditional media has already invested huge resources into football in this country.

“We naturally share the concerns of the football leagues that outside organisations may be able to get big profits without putting anything in.

“However, we don’t believe that accreditation is the way to tackle this. We don’t accept that it will work and we think it will be impossible to implement.”

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