A football club which earlier this year barred a regional daily from its pre-match press conferences has now scrapped the convention altogether.
Media outlets have been informed by Swindon Town FC there will be no pre-match conferences held for the forseeable future.
Instead, it plans to conduct all interviews with players and management staff via its own in-house media team.
In January, the Swindon Advertiser’s chief sports writer Tom Bassam was barred from a Friday morning conference at the request of chairman Lee Power.
A similar ban had been imposed the previous year after Town, whose County Ground stadium is pictured above, objected to a tweet posted by Tom’s predecessor Sam Morshead prior to a match.
The club claimed the tweet led to their opponents on that day, Peterborough United, changing their team.
Sam, who left the Advertiser last July to work for sports news website Total Sport Swindon, has now been told of the decision to do away with pre-match press conferences.
The club is still obliged under Football League rules to conduct post-match press conferences.
Sam told HTFP: “It doesn’t entirely surprise me. There were rumblings for a few weeks about the possibility of this coming up, and we were prepared for it.
“There’s been a hot and cold relationship between different members of the media here and the hierarchy of the club for some time.”
He added: “For the local media and a chunk of fans here, there’s an expectation that the club allows itself to be held to account.
“It’s hard to do that when communications with the club are irregular and erratic at times.”
Sam has now written a comment piece for the Total Sport Swindon site, in which he asks supporters to consider whether the latest move is in their best interests.
A statement on Swindon Town FC’s website reads: “The club are very disappointed and surprised in the way in which our new media arrangement has been portrayed locally and presented to the national media.
“So we are very clear: the football club are looking to start something different this season. Bearing in mind the change in training facility (which is a considerable distance from Swindon), our in-house journalist, Tom Otrebski, will be conducting interviews with players, management and staff during the week as well as producing a lot of behind-the-scenes material that will engage the fans and give them more of an insight into how the team and the club is run.
“This will be distributed on all the club’s official media channels and also on a new and exciting media platform called Fanzai which the club have decided to trial.”
The club describes Fanzai as a family-friendly app which is free of the profanity and abuse that users may experience on existing social media.
The statement continues: “For the avoidance of doubt, post-match access and the reporting of matches by the media will remain exactly the same as last season.
“There is not a blanket media ‘ban’ as is being reported. We are trying something fresh which we feel will give supporters a new insight into their football club.”