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Story earns football club ban for 'Mr Newcastle'

A former local press journalist known as ‘Mr Newcastle’ for the closeness of his contacts with the city’s football club has been banned from its ground.

Alan Oliver covered the Magpies for 29 years for the Evening Chronicle before retiring at Christmas.

But he and a fellow reporter at the Sunday People, for which Alan now freelances, have been banned following a story they wrote saying manager Joe Kinnear at suffered a health setback after undergoing heart bypass surgery last month.

The shut out at Newcastle United comes just days after Alan received a lifetime achievement award for his coverage of the club over the past three decades.

Daily Mail columnist Charles Sale wrote: “Newcastle, a club in turmoil on and off the pitch, have surpassed themselves by banning journalist Alan Oliver from St James’ Park just days after he received a lifetime achievement award for the dignified way he devoted a career to covering the team for the Newcastle Evening Chronicle for more than 30 years.

“The highly respected Oliver, now a pensioner working for a Sunday newspaper, was the co-author of a story speculating on sidelined manager Joe Kinnear’s health – a fair subject on Tyneside – which upset the board.

“Their ridiculous over-the-top reaction against a newspaperman who has written more positive paragraphs about the football club than anyone says everything about the buffoons running Newcastle.”

During his career Alan beat the footballing media to the story that Geordie legend Alan Shearer was signing for the club, earned a similar ban from Kevin Keegan during his first stint as manager and had a fracas with midfielder Lauren Robert.

It is just the latest spat this season between a football club and the press after the The Northern Echo/Hartlepool Mail and Croydon Advertiser were banned from their local clubs.

A spokesman for Newcastle United confirmed the ban was in place and said it would be reviewed in due course.


John (30/03/2009 14:04:11)
Ludicrous. As a Sunderland fan, even I have stopped laughing at Newcastle. Its turned from a joke into something beyond funny.
As a reporter who has trained on the newcastle course and knows the drill up there – Oliver’s a legend. Mike Ashley is something rather different…

Sporting Life (30/03/2009 14:24:22)
And you thought things were odd at St James’ Park… Apparently the Portsmouth News were banned (again) from Fratton Park after penning a story about one of the Pompey lads dropping the FA Cup during an event in the town…

OLDishHACK (30/03/2009 16:30:43)
Clubs need their local nespapers more than ever now.
The club programmes and websites are just propaganda machines which every supporter knows.
Locals and nationals are where fans go to get the real story behind their clubs.
The sooner clubs stopped hireing PR machines and simply gave a reporter access to the club, the better it’s realtions with press and fans.

Jeff (30/03/2009 16:42:43)
So Hold the Front Page is in the habit of removing comments criticising puff pieces about over-rated hacks then? That’s good to know. I also note the fact that the story Mr Oliver was banned for seems to be untrue. But why let that get in the way of a spot of mutual back slapping, eh lads?

HoldtheFrontPage (30/03/2009 16:51:52)
We removed it because it was legally questionable.

Will (30/03/2009 16:59:04)
Legally questionable was it? As a trained journalist I’d be interested to know just what was wrong with it… Now, printing a story claiming that someone has had a health setback when they haven’t could be rather more problematic in that department…

Big Brother (30/03/2009 19:44:31)
Portsmouth Football Club even had a go at their local paper on their website on account of the paper covering a fans forum.
They claim quotes spoken were ‘not intended for the media’.