Alex Thomson calls for 'bovine' football writers to stand up to clubs after Newcastle bans reporter

Channel 4 News journalist Alex Thomson has called on “bovine” reporters to stand up to bans from football clubs.

The broadcaster also condemned “Stasi” clubs for 'censoring' media coverage following the news that Newcastle United has banned all Telegraph journalists from its home ground.

It came after the paper refused to apologise and take down an article warning that the club was in danger of suffering a "damaging split".

In Press Gazette's Journalism Weekly, reporter Luke Edwards said this was a common threat in football journalism.

In addition to Newcastle, Thomson criticised Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and Glasgow teams Celtic and Rangers for the way they handle the media.

He condemned Ferguson for his long-running refusal to speak to the BBC and said that he was once invited to a Rangers press conference where questions were banned.

Last year, while reporting on Rangers' financial collapse, Thomson described football journalists in Glasgow as "lazy"

Thomson also revealed that he knew of a “prominent, respected” football writer who has been banned from covering Rangers’ city rivals Celtic.

Thomson is a Newcastle United supporter and said the Telegraph report was justified after the team lost 6-0 at home to Liverpool at the weekend.

"What’s more dispiriting even than that game is that the bovine North East press pack (just like Manchester and Glasgow) simply appears to accept this state of affairs,” he wrote in a blog.

“Where’s the boycott of Old Trafford, St James’s Park, Ibrox and Celtic Park? Where’s the solidarity? Where’s the sense that a free and fair media matters a hell of a lot more than a bunch of football managers who think they can come over all Stasi because they’re so damned precious they can’t take any stick?

“It’s pathetic. It’s inexcusable. It’s another reflection of the tawdry morality in modern British football. And the media from Sky Sports (with their oh-so-cosy first question in the press conference) and the BBC to local papers should call time on this. Where is the Football Writers’ Association? Next time this happens wouldn’t it be a fine thing if there was nobody at the manager’s press conference and no cameras or radio at their match?”

Thomson suggested that banning reporters should become a breach of contract and punished by the Football Association.

He added: “Papers terrified of circulation implosion are not going to stand up and be counted. The BBC has never taken a stand on this. Sky? Dream on. Over to the FA blazers then, to act I’m afraid and if they do it in London they’ll do it in Glasgow the next day.

“It’s time clubs who ban journalists were forced to grow up a wee bit  – and well past time that football journalism and the FA stood up for the game and not the money and put a stop to this nonsense.

“Just do it.”

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