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British clubs vs the media – Man United, Celtic & Newcastle lead press ban

Football clubs and the media have always had a complicated relationship woven with moments of praise, criticism and unwavering pressure.

One minute, a club is the media darling, receiving adulation for innovation, winning, resilience and more.

The next minute, the media has them by the throat, demanding and piling pressure on them.

Some clubs lose their patience and turn on the media, as highlighted by the recent case with Manchester United.

They banned selected journalists from Manchester United press conferences with manager Erik ten Hag this week. 

Following reports this week that several United players were unhappy under Ten Hag, the club banned journalists from Sky, ESPN, Manchester Evening News and the Mirror.

Sky Sports’ top correspondent Kaveh Solekhol and the Manchester Evening News’ chief United correspondent Samuel Luckhurst were barred.

The Mirror’s David McDonnell and ESPN’s Rob Dawson were also denied entry to the press briefing at United’s Carrington training ground ahead of their clash with Chelsea today.

United argued that these publications had rushed to print their reports without the courtesy of a chance to comment, challenge or contextualise’.

“They should come to us first and not go around [behind] our back, printing articles – that is not the right thing,” Ten Hag said in his press conference.

United want to draw a line between responsible journalism and sensationalism, which prompted us to reflect on times other clubs have taken a similar stance against the media.

Mike Ashley and Joe Kinnear ban local Chronicle, Sunday Sun and the Journal

Newcastle United caused quite a stir in October 2013 when then-manager Alan Pardew did not entertain questions from the Newcastle Chronicle or any of its sister publications (Sunday Sun and the Journal).

Club communications staff intervened anytime reporters from these platforms tried to ask questions in the wake of Newcastle’s loss to Tyneside rivals Sunderland.

The reason for the gag on local reporters was eventually revealed. The top brass, comprised of chairman Mike Ashley and sporting director Joe Kinnear, were angry over the coverage of the fan protests against Ashley’s ownership in their previous home game against Liverpool. 

In a futile attempt to counter the negative portrayal, Newcastle decided to clamp down on these specific publications.

Celtic ban BBC and PLZ Soccer from Brendan Rodgers’ unveiling

Brendan Rodgers returned to Celtic for a second stint at the club this summer, but BBC Scotland reporters were barred from the Parkhead press room.

The club claimed it had raised several issues with the broadcaster that had not been addressed.

It was later revealed that PLZ Soccer was also denied entry into the room. It is still unclear what led to the ban and whether it is still in place.

Port Vale chairman bans journalists for asking the right questions 

Port Vale took an unconventional stance and banned journalists and photographers from the Stoke Sentinel for probing into the limited edition football shirts pre-ordered by fans at the beginning of the season.

Fourteen games into the season, the supporters who paid £55 had not received their jerseys, but this question somehow incensed the club so much that they banned the publication for prompting a response.

Vale later explained the manufacturing delay, a response they would not have put out if the Stoke Sentinel did not press with the question. 

There were also reports that Vale chairman Norman Smurthwaite was angry at a report from the publication about the outgoing chairman.

Sir Alex Ferguson tries to ban journalist over Ryan Giggs affair

Legendary Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson once tried to ban Associated Press officer Rob Harris for asking about controversial United legend Ryan Giggs.

News had broken about married Giggs’ affair with model Imogen Thomas.

In a media briefing ahead of a Champions League fixture, the cameras picked up Ferguson’s whispers with United’s press officer in which he asked for a gag on Harris after the journalist tried to ask about the former Wales international.

Nottingham Forest ban the Guardian and the Observer

In September 2013, Nottingham Forest banned journalists from the Guardian and the Observer from their press box after the latter’s chief football writer Daniel Taylor attended a game at City Ground against Wolverhampton Wanderers in March but did not publish a match report.

The bizarre news threw everyone off, with Forest claiming it is against the rules to sit in their press box and not file a match report.

This one had a touch of absurdity to it, as the ban came six months after the match in question had taken place. 

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