A regional daily says its reporter will be forced to pay to attend a promotion crunch match due to a non-league football club’s media accreditation policy.
The News, Portsmouth, is now considering how it will cover Havant & Waterlooville’s away game at Boreham Wood tomorrow due to the latter’s policy of allowing the visiting team to allocate their own press passes to media channels which cover them.
Havant have been designated two press passes for the second leg of the Football Conference South play-off semi-final, which The News says have been given to the club’s own staff.
While the paper says it has no qualms with this, it believes the home club should have judged its application for a pass on its own merit rather than letting the away team choose.
Boreham Wood currently lead the tie 2-0 over Havant, who are nicknamed the Hawks, after the first leg.
The winner of the semi-final will have the opportunity to advance into the Football Conference National, the fifth highest level at which the sport is played in England, should they win against the victor of the other semi-final.
Havant matches are usually covered by freelancer Kevin Ricketts, who has headed up The News’s coverage of non-league football for the past 15 years.
The News has raised the issue with the Football Conference, which said it is up to the home team as to how they handle press requests.
Deputy sports editor Rob Atkins said: “For the first time in my career, we are effectively being charged for the privilege of covering a football match.
“This is because Boreham Wood do not consider all press pass applications on their own merits. Instead, they simply hand two passes to each visiting club to distribute as they wish.
“On this occasion, the Hawks have plenty of their own media personnel travelling to the game and will use the tickets for themselves.
“I have no qualms with this. It’s a big game and we would do exactly the same in their position. But why is it left to the Hawks to decide if we get a press pass or not? The game is not being played in Havant.”
Discussing Boreham Wood’s accreditation policy, Rob added: “The net result is you have club men, populating club websites with pro-club material for free, while genuine journalists are left haggling for entry at the turnstiles.
“I’m sure both parties would be happy if Boreham Wood gave us one pass each and then said if we wanted to bring additional staff, they would have to pay the entrance fee. That would be simple and fair.
“As it is, they have just washed their hands of the whole thing and said it is the Hawks’ decision.”
Boreham Wood FC say in addition to the two press passes available, Havant & Waterlooville have been given 13 boardroom tickets and 24 complimentary tickets which could have been issued to The News by the away club.
Grant Morris, Boreham Wood’s communications and media manager, told HTFP there had been between 40 and 50 requests for press passes for the game.
He added: “Our policy throughout the whole season, whether play-offs or in the Conference South season, is to issue two press passes to the media team of each visiting club.”
Grant said The News would be given access to the press box should the paper choose to send a reporter to the match.