Regional reporters barred by a premier league football club from press conferences and matches have received backing from one of the club’s greatest ever players.
Journalists from the Newcastle Evening Chronicle and its sister titles The Journal and The Sunday Sun remain barred from accessing media facilities, players or managers of Newcastle United following a dispute over the coverage given to the Time 4 Change protest march last month.
But the club’s all-time leading goalscorer Alan Shearer said it was a shame such a decision had been taken by the club as the Chronicle has historically been a direct link between Newcastle United and its many supporters.
“Over the years, ever since I’ve been here, people have rows, people have disagreements, but what’s always been the case is that everyone has always stuck together come the end of it,” he told the Chronicle.
“Whether that’s the paper not being happy with it, or the club not being happy, or the players not being happy.
“I think it’s important to resolve it because it is a link between the club and between the supporters and, at the end of the day, the supporters are the most important thing. Without supporters there isn’t football.”
The ban came after the club wrote to the papers complaining about their coverage of a fan demonstration against owner Mike Ashley at the home game against Liverpool on 19 October.
It also follows the Chronicle’s refusal to bow to club pressure to call the ground the Sports Direct Arena, while the paper was also critical of the appointment of Joe Kinnear as director of football.
Manager Alan Pardew refused to take questions from the reporters at the Trinity Mirror titles after Newcastle United’s recent 2-1 loss to Sunderland in the recent Wear-Tyne derby.
Journalists from national media then asked why the questions from the local reporters would not be answered, but did not receive a response.
Reporters were again shunned at the post-match press conference after the game against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane on Sunday.
“I don’t exactly know the ins and outs, as I’ve not been party to it,” added Shearer.
“But I do think that it is a shame that it has come to this.
“People have rows and you have to get over them. I would [like to see it resolved] for everyone because there has always been a good link, they’ve always worked well together, the club and the paper, the paper and the club.”
The National Union of Journalists has also criticised the club’s decision to ban reporters and has written to Mike Ashley about the ongoing matter.