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Former daily editor to join club that once banned his paper

Brian Aitken PicA former regional daily editor is to join a football club that once banned his newspaper’s journalists from its press box.

Brian Aitken, who left North-East daily The Journal in 2014 after 11 years in charge, has been appointed as the new head of corporate affairs at Newcastle United FC.

In October 2013, NUFC announced it was banning journalists from The Journal, Chronicle and Sunday Sun from the press box at St James’ Park, over coverage of a fans protest against owner Mike Ashley.

The ban was eventually rescinded after 14 months, during which time journalists from the three Trinity Mirror titles covered matches from the stands.

Brian’s new role will primarily involve forging closer links with the North East business community.

He was due to be given a similar role at TM’s North-East division ncjMedia after stepping down as Journal editor, but this position subsequently disappeared in a management restructure.

Ironically his appointment comes hours after it was announced that his long-time rival, former Northern Echo editor Peter Barron, was also taking up a new role.

Peter, who stepped down as Echo editor after 17 years in April, is to join Middlesbrough College to help teach its creative media courses.

Brian, who formed his own media consultancy business after leaving ncjMedia Ltd in November 2014, said he was “tremendously excited” by the move.

“Newcastle United is the biggest brand in the region and in my discussions with Lee it has been made clear that he wants to position the club at the heart of the North East’s business activities,” he said.

“They are open for business, and open to business. And with Rafa Benitez bringing the feel-good factor back to St James’ Park, there has never been a better time for the re-connection process to begin.

“The Club are currently exploring the formation of a business partnership scheme, to be fully up and running for their 2017-18 season and I want to talk to as many people as possible now to hear what sort of member benefits they would like to see on offer.”

Club managing director Lee Charnley added: “We’re excited to be bringing Brian on board.  Whilst the club has many close, established relationships with businesses across the region and beyond, we recognise that we have, in some respects, become disconnected from the North East business community.

“We know we need to do more to be part of the region’s vibrant entrepreneurial scene and to give businesses the opportunity to be part of the club.

“We want to support regional businesses, both through their association with us and by giving them opportunities to do business in an exciting, iconic location. In turn we know that the club will be strengthened by nurturing those relationships.

“In Brian, we have recruited someone who is well known and respected in the region and he will be working closely with Nicole Atkin, Head of Business Development, to liaise with businesses and gather intelligence on how we can all work better together.”


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  • July 19, 2016 at 8:42 am

    A good appointment – and one that ought to lead to the injection of some common sense on the other side of the fence, as it were. Football clubs never gain anything from these hissy fits with the press, and they need not happen at all. Critical coverage gives a window on external perception of the club and its performance – it’s an opportunity, not a threat.

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  • July 19, 2016 at 8:53 pm

    Good appointment? You’re kidding, right. There’s only one reason anybody would work for Mike Ashley. As Dylan rightly said: Money doesn’t talk, it swears.

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