A group of regional newspapers which were banned from the press box at their local Premiership football club for nearly 14 months have finally been allowed back in.
Journalists from the Newcastle Chronicle and its sister titles The Journal and The Sunday Sun have been barred by Newcastle United from press conferences and matches at St James’s Park since October 2013.
The titles, published by Trinity Mirror’s North East division ncjmedia, were excluded after the club objected to coverage of a fans’ protest against owner Mike Ashley.
Now the papers have finally been allowed back in after more than a year of covering matches from the stands.
Trinity Mirror North East editor-in-chief Darren Thwaites told HTFP: “We’re pleased Newcastle United have restored media access for our titles after resolving our differences in recent talks.
“The club fully respects that our coverage will remain independent. We wish United every success, as we always have, but we’ll also be critical if we feel it’s appropriate.”
During the course of the ban, the ncjmedia titles have continued to take a robust editorial line in reporting the Magpies’ fortunes on and off the pitch.
In April, the Chronicle published a front page headlined ‘P45DUE’ calling for the manager, Alan Pardew, to be axed, although the club has rallied somewhat over recent months with United now sitting in eighth place in the Premiership table.
However a thaw in relations at the start of the current season led to fresh hopes of a breakthrough.
Mr Pardew, who had previously claimed the newspapers had “a bit of an agenda” towards the club, appeared to hold out an olive-branch by highlighting the “optimism” in the local media about the club’s prospects.
Mal Robinson, the new editor of football for TM’s North-East titles, also expressed hopes of a “fresh dialogue” with the club.
“Fingers crossed, we can get the professional relationship back up as it was before,” he said in September.