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Tigers' spat with local paper spills onto sports pages

A row has blown up between the Hull Daily Mail and Hull City football club, which has seen both sides arguing their point in public.

The newspaper has been explaining to readers why there are no interviews with players or staff at the club – ever since New Year’s Eve, when manager Peter Taylor took exception to an analysis article that had appeared in mid-December.

He told Tigers reporter John Fieldhouse that neither he nor any of the club’s players would speak to anyone from the Mail.

The paper has continued its coverage of the club since then, relying on unofficial sources for news about Hull City.

It’s not the first time the two sides have been in dispute – John suffered a press box ban this time last year after a controversial interview with one of the players.

Editor John Meehan says he has “no wish to be in dispute” with Hull City or anyone at the club.

Club chairman Adam Pearson said the interview ban was down to “excessive criticism” of the team and individual players in the paper – after what was only the first home defeat of the season.

He said in a statement on the club website: “Surely it is a time when the local paper should be positive or constructively critical at the very least rather than giving a platform to freelance journalists to specifically target certain players and the manager for their ill-thought out personal attacks.

“The club would like to stress that it feels the coverage in the Hull Daily Mail is generally very well balanced but that the ‘Analysis on Monday’ section is both overtly critical and disrespectful to the club generally, and management and players specifically.

“We do not want to be difficult or over sensitive and certainly the Hull Daily Mail have no bans or restrictions placed on them but we do feel the club should be afforded respect when it is giving exclusive exposure to players and management.

“However, the manager certainly has a right not to grant exclusive interviews with the Hull Daily Mail when he feels that his co-operation is not being respected in return by the ‘Analysis on Monday’ column.”

Among the criticism levelled was the awarding of a Pub Team Moment tag for players, something he described as “crass” for a serious newspaper.

But John Meehan said: “Clearly the manager has taken strong exception to comments made in an analysis piece which followed a defeat for the Tigers during a run of poor form and results.

“Those comments were those of the writer, who is a supporter of the club. They do not represent the view of the Mail, but I defend the right to carry them. After all football is all about opinions.

“They should also be seen in the context of our coverage of the club which is overwhelmingly positive.

“If Mr Taylor, or anyone at the club, has a grievance they should talk us about it. Any legitimate concern will be taken on board, but it is not helpful for the manager to over-react to criticism and slap a complete ban on interviews with him and his players.

“I hope this situation can be resolved very soon and that we can establish a constructive working relationship based on mutual understanding.”

He added: “In his statement Mr Pearson referred to ‘exclusive access’ to the managers and players.

“In fact, the Mail has never had any agreement or arrangement whereby we receive exclusive access. Nor do we expect it. However, as the leading local media organisation, we provide far greater coverage of the club than any other source and therefore make many more requests for interviews and information.

“The Mail has always supported Hull City, commercially and editorially. We are major sponsors of the club and partners of the Premier Club at the Kingston Communications Stadium. We wish to see Hull City achieve success on and off the field and we share many of our readers’ hopes that the Tigers will achieve promotion this season.

“But our editorial coverage has always been independent and will remain so. It is not our role to be a mouthpiece for the club and our readers would certainly not expect us to be.”

He listed a series of what he called unreasonable restrictions on media access put in place by the club manager, which had strained relations with the club.

John added: “We hope that common sense will prevail and that normal relations will be restored very soon. We are certainly committed to doing whatever we can to resolve this dispute, while maintaining our editorial integrity.”

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