A weekly editor has accused a rival daily of “stabbing them in the back” by poaching a football manager to write a weekly column.
The Rotherham Advertiser was banned from using press facilities at Rotherham United’s home ground last month over a story the football club claimed was “disproportionate”.
Journalists from the independent weekly were told they could not access media facilities at the New York Stadium, while Rotherham manager Steve Evans also withdrew his weekly Advertiser column.
Now it has emerged that Steve has started a new regular column with rival Sheffield-based daily The Star.
Advertiser editor Andrew Mosley said the paper was “extremely disappointed” that the deal with The Star had been agreed.
He told HTFP: “We’re not sure whether it was a deal agreed between Steve and the paper or with the knowledge of the Rotherham directors, but we are extremely disappointed.
“Only the week before last Steve turned down the chance to become the manager of Sheffield Wednesday, citing his ‘loyalty’ to Rotherham.
“Secondly, we find it astounding that with the issue of press freedom and football clubs being the subject of an early day motion in Parliament, another local newspaper would stab us in the back and in doing so, also stab press freedom in the back, by taking advantage of our dispute rather than backing us.”
Andrew added that he would be writing to Rotherham United and the editor of The Star about the move.
However Star editor James Mitchinson has hit back saying he is disappointed by the Advertiser’s stance.
James told HTFP: “I cannot comment on the reasons why the Rotherham Advertiser finds itself banned from its local football team. Indeed, to use a hackneyed footballing phrase: ‘We don’t worry ourselves with what the opposition is up to, we can only concentrate on our own affairs’.
“It disappoints me to receive a note from the trade press to the effect that the Rotherham Advertiser is unhappy that the manager of Rotherham United is writing for the Star. Were I to find myself in the same position, I’d dedicate my waking hours to resolving the matter in private, rather than picking more fights in the public domain
“However, I do not believe it is healthy for such a stand-off to exist between any newspaper and a prominent community organisation. Ultimately, it is said community that suffers. Clearly the club has its reasons for taking the course of action it has, and it is not for me to comment upon the detail of that.
“The Star is committed to providing the best possible coverage of its six main football clubs. My publishing manifesto to the sports desk is to obtain as much top-quality insight into the myriad sports we cover as possible, for the benefit of our readers. I also want my sports pages to offer support and encouragement to the teams our readers love, but of course, in an unbiased and objective way.”
The Advertiser’s dispute with the club came about after it published a front page story about a kit shortage which prevented a six-year-old being a mascot for Rotherham United.
Andrew said he held a meeting with the club last week to discuss the story but the ban still remains in place, meaning reporters are having to pay to attend matches, while the title is relying for match photos on freelancers working for other papers and other clubs.
The Advertiser’s ban is one of a number brought in by football clubs recently, which has led to MPs signing an early day motion condemning the clubs and calling for a new code of practice on how they handle the media.