A group of MPs have hit out at football clubs which have banned journalists from their grounds and called for a new code of conduct about how they are treated.
An early day motion has been put forward in Parliament condemning recent moves by Newcastle United and other football clubs in banning reporters from their media facilities.
The motion, which has been signed by 20 MPs so far, says the ban from the St James’ Park press box “leaves reporters unable to report on events which are of great interest to the local community”.
It also highlights similar disputes with local newspapers at Port Vale, Rotherham Utd, Nottingham Forest and Crawley Town and calls on the Premier League and Football Association to bring in a code of conduct about the treatment of working journalists.
The National Union of Journalists has also said it is concerned by the spate of bannings by football clubs and called for a code of conduct to be introduced.
It is calling on its members to encourage their MPs to sign the EDM and the union’s national executive has also put forward a motion raising its concerns that journalists are being banned following stories that football clubs do not like.
The ban at Newcastle United leaves reporters from the Newcastle Chronicle and sister titles The Journal and the Sunday Sun unable to access media facilities at the home ground and manager Alan Pardew has also refused to answer questions from the journalists in press conferences.
The Rotherham Advertiser was barred by Rotherham United last month from press facilities and this ban continues at present, while a similar one at Port Vale Football Club affecting The Sentinel was resolved after talks were held.
In April the Crawley News’ sports reporter Kaylee Seckington was prevented from attending post-match press conferences or speaking to Crawley Town players, while Nottingham Forest also limited media access to its players.
HTFP also reported yesterday that there was an angry exchange between Forest manager Billy Davies and photographer Dan Westwell, who supplies match day pictures for the Nottingham Post.
The early day motion was put forward by North-East MP Ian Lavery, who represents Wansbeck.
It says: “That this House condemns the decision of Newcastle United FC Chairman, Mike Ashley, to withdraw all report facilities for journalists working on the Newcastle Chronicle, Newcastle Journal and Sunday Sun; notes that the denial of access to the St James’ Park stadium press box, training ground and interviews with players and manager leaves reporters unable to report on events which are of great interest to the local community; further notes that this follows the temporary banning of a Daily Telegraph reporter by the same club last season and similar actions by Nottingham Forest, Crawley Town, Port Vale and Rotherham United; supports the National Union of Journalists in believing that journalists working for a free press in a democratic society must be able to express themselves as they see fit within the law, without fear of petty and vindictive corporate sanctions; welcomes the broad support that supporters of the club have given to reporters trying to do their professional best in reporting the affairs of football clubs; and therefore calls on the Premier League and Football Association to implement a code of conduct in respect of the treatment of working journalists.”