The National Union of Journalists has written to the sport’s governing body in England, asking its chairman Greg Dyke, pictured left, to condemn the censorship of the press by certain football clubs.
As reported on HTFP earlier this month, Blackpool Gazette football writer Will Watt made his own plea to the FA on the matter, urging the organisation to outlaw the practice altogether.
The NUJ’s letter comes after The Gazette was barred from attending Blackpool FC’s behind closed doors friendly match at Morecambe FC yesterday.
The newspaper reported that the home club refused access to the press “at the request of Blackpool FC”.
Initially this was thought to be because the away team may have wanted to use the game to test out triallists and would not want the information to reach the public domain.
However, Morecambe Visitor sports reporter Adam Lord attended the match and Blackpool FC’s official social media channels reported live updates and team news during the game.
Earlier this month Swindon Town extended its current media ban by announcing it was culling pre-match press conferences, while Rotherham United, Newcastle United, Southampton and Port Vale were all involved in media access disputes at some stage last season.
Will’s Gazette colleague Steve Simpson also found himself locked out of a press conference in June, which was called to announce the appointment of the club’s new manager Neil McDonald.
The letter from NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet is addressed to Mr Dyke, himself a former regional journalist.
It reads: “I am writing to you because of our concern over a worrying trend among football clubs to ban reporters and instead have their own hand-picked writers to peddle propaganda from the proprietor’s point of view.
“The NUJ believes censorship by football club owners is unacceptable; they should be held to account for the decisions they make and the way they run the club.
“It is the fans who will be the losers. They can buy the match-day programmes to hear what their team’s manager and owner have to say, but they should also be able to hear what independent commentators have to say about their local team.
“As a former journalist, this must be of interest you. I am asking the FA to take up this issue and to use the power in its hands to roundly condemn the censoring of the press and to work with clubs to ensure that football fans have access to a variety of reports on the fortunes and otherwise of their club.”
The FA has not yet responded to a request for a comment.