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National journalist defends local newspapers in club ban row

A respected national sports journalist has stepped into the row between three regional newspapers and a Premier League football club, branding the club’s behaviour as “pathetic.”

Newcastle United officials again refused to take questions from journalists at Newcastle dailies the Chronicle and Journal on Monday night after the bottom-of-the-table team lost 1-0 to Stoke.

Chief sports writer Lee Ryder, left, asked under-fire boss Alan Pardew whether he felt he could genuinely come back from another Premier League defeat.

Mr Pardew quickly turned to his communications chief Wendy Taylor, who batted the question away saying: “No questions from NCJ, sorry.”

Ironically the beleaguered boss then went on to take a question from the Daily Telegraph which has itself been banned from the former St James’s Park.

After the press conference,  its renowned football correspondent Henry Winter made his feelings clear by tweeting: “Pathetic. Local papers vital for a club, they are family.”

Chronicle reporter Lee has also written a hard-hitting article warning Pardew that he is “running out of journalists to ignore as pressure is cranked up on his future” and arguing that Newcastle’s “PR meltdown” is harming players, staff and the manager.

Said Lee: “Alan Pardew is running out of time at Newcastle United and running out of space to manoeuvre when it comes to addressing the public.”

The daily’s sports writer believes one of the main bones of contention centres around Pardew, who took over at Newcastle in December 2010, being given an extended eight-year contract in late 2012.

“One of his main gripes has been the suggestion he [Pardew] is sitting and waiting to be sacked. Pardew was offended by talk he was simply standing by for compensation.

“In fact the whole reason Ashley has got himself in this whole mess with Pardew to start with is because he sanctioned an eight year contract for the Londoner.

“He might not be happy with Pardew but he also won’t be happy at paying him the fortune that would mean the Toon manager won’t have to work another day in his life while Ashley continues to take stick from the fans.”

Relations had reached an all-time low in April this year when the Newcastle-based Sunday Sun published a mocking back page headlined ‘We’re So Sorry’ in which it appeared to accept the blame for the team’s poor run of results and apologised to fans.

At the time the back page highlighted the team’s disastrous run of 11 defeats, during which they conceded 28 goals and scored only one.

Lee, on Newcastle’s bottom three position this season, added: “Nobody likes being criticised but when you are the bloke in charge of the team which has banked 19 points from a possible 81 since Boxing Day it is always going to come your way.

“Newcastle are not struggling because they are unlucky. They are struggling because the manager cannot figure out a game plan to win Premier League matches.

“Regardless of comments from pundits and journalists or whether they are on point or not – the league table does not lie.”

Mal Robinson, the new editor of football for TM’s North-East titles, had previously been hopeful that fresh dialogue with the club could see a return to pre and post-match press conferences and access to match-day facilities for reporters at the Chronicle, Journal and Sunday Sun – all three papers having been under a media ban for most last season and at the start of this one.

Lee, the ‘Blog On The Tyne’ voice of the Chronicle, said Newcastle should remember the way former manager Chris Hughton dealt with relegation – “over a pot of tea at the training ground.”

He added: “Newcastle are losing that friendly identity as a club. Ashley needs his PR advisers to tell him that and relieve some of the pressure it is putting on his players and staff.”


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  • October 3, 2014 at 8:58 am

    Personally, I’d be equally childish, stop dancing to their Toon and not go to the press conferences at all. In fact, I’d go one step further and self-appoint a ‘manager’ (maybe a long-standing fan) to give quotes to my questions and make the whole shower of sh*te look even more ridiculous than they already do.

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  • October 3, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    Henry Winter is wrong – local papers are no longer vital to clubs because there are now so many other ways for clubs to communicate with fans. However Newcastle’s stance is pathetic.

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  • October 4, 2014 at 10:52 am

    Of course they are vital to local clubs. Attendances would soon decline if local papers did not cover their local clubs. The only losers in this sorry saga is Newcastle United as the rest of the country is laughing at their pathetic attempt at public relations. Get a grip and let these journalists do their jobs. Pardew is paid enough to take the flak and, if he doesn’t like it, then do something about it and make sure your team start winning some games.

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  • October 4, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    Ironic really. Most fans criticise local papers for being too cosy with clubs because they need all interviews etc to fill space six days a week.
    This one at least showed some bottle and Newcastle can’t take it.

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  • October 6, 2014 at 9:42 am

    Attendances would not decline – especially at Premier League clubs – if local papers stopped covering this clubs (but circulation figures would plummet.) Local papers need the club more than the club needs the local paper. But it does reflect badly on Newcastle United.

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