A regional daily has been banned by its local football club after objecting to a Tweet by one of its sports journalists.
The Swindon Advertiser has been barred from using press facilities at Swindon Town football club after chief sports writer Sam Morshead tweeted that striker Nile Ranger was in the team to play Peterborough United on Saturday, ahead of the team sheets being handed in.
Swindon Town claim that after seeing Sam’s Tweet, which was sent 45 minutes before the team sheets were submitted, the Peterborough side changed their team.
This led to Swindon Town chaiman Lee Power banning the Advertiser from the press box at the County Ground and from pre and post-match interviews with players and staff.
The dispute with the football club is the latest to hit the regional press, with a number facing bans over the last few months, including the Rotherham Advertiser and Trinity Mirror’s three titles in Newcastle, including the Evening Chronicle.
Sam tweeted the information about Ranger after seeing a Tweet by a fan who had photographed his shirt hanging in the dressing room during a pre-match tour of the ground.
The paper said that Ranger, who scored Swindon Town’s first goal, had himself told his 13,198 followers on Instagram that he was back in the team at 1.32pm, half an hour before the team sheets were handed in.
Sam had been told the news on Thursday by a source that Ranger was likely to feature in the game but after conversations with a club official chose not to report on it, so as not to give Peterborough an advantage.
Said Sam: “I went along with the club’s request for the good of the team. It was only when I saw the Tweet from the fan who stated he had seen Ranger’s shirt hanging in the dressing room during a stadium tour that I tweeted what was already being spread around.
“Once it was in the public domain I felt I had the right to report on it. It is what any reporter would do.”
Following the ban, Advertiser editor Gary Lawrence spent 20 minutes on the phone to Power trying to get him to change his mind.
He said: “I asked him to reconsider and explained the reasoning behind Sam’s Tweet but he didn’t accept that, even when I pointed out that the player himself had spread the news on social media.
“Lee said he felt the club had felt let down but I think to ban the whole paper is an overreaction.
“I can understand that the club did not want to give Peterborough any advantage and I felt that we abided by that. It was only when the news became public that we tweeted it and added it to our matchday live blog.
“That was just 45 minutes before team sheets were handed in. We can see how well Posh managed to take advantage of the news by the fact that Ranger scored after 28 minutes.
“I can respect that Lee wants to do the best for his club and the fans but I don’t think banning the Adver is going to achieve that. He has steadied the club and given it a new direction since he took over but I think this is more controversy the club can do without.
“I can assure fans that Sam will still be at games, even if he has to pay to sit in the stands at the County Ground, and we will move heaven and earth to continue to provide the very best coverage of Swindon Town, both in the paper and online.”
The ban will not apply to away games, such as tonight’s visit to Stevenage or Saturday’s trip to Gillingham.
Power told the paper: “I was told by [Town manager] Mark Cooper that [Peterborough boss] Darren Ferguson had said that they saw Sam’s Tweet and changed their team.”