Ban on photographers at Southampton FC to continue

Southampton Football Club will continue to bar photographers from its home games and instead offer images to media groups taken by its own team of professionals.

The League One club said last night images taken by its in-house team of photographers would be “available to all media organisations on normal commercial terms”.

The move follows an announcement by the club last week that photographers would not be allowed entry to the ground and media groups would instead have to buy images from a single outlet appointed by the club to syndicate images.

That decision brought widespread condemnation and led several media groups, including Telegraph Media Group and The Sun, to refuse to carry its images.

Digital South, the agency SFC had hoped to appoint to solely run its photojournalism, then pulled out of the arrangement. Its boss Robin Jones told Press Gazette that he had refused to sign the deal with the club.

Southampton issued a statement last night in which it said no media organisations, local or national, were barred from reporting on its home games at St Mary’s Stadium.

“The club has decided to make available to external media organisations photographic images taken by the club’s own professional shorts photographers only,” the statement added.

“These images will be available to all media organisations on normal commercial terms. The purpose of this is solely to protect the club’s commercial revenue derived from the use of its wholly-owned images.

“Saints fans will, of course, continue to be able to see a wide range of match day photography on the club’s website.”

The decision to ban press photographers led The Sun to publish “the most one-sided match report in the history of The Sun” yesterday as it detailed SFC’s home defeat to Plymouth on Saturday.

The Sun added: “While applauding Plymouth’s amazing victory we are deliberately ignoring one of the hottest title favourites in history.

“All this is down to Southampton’s draconian executive chairman Nicola Cortese.

“His totally crazy decision to ban national and local newspaper photographers from the game will hurt his club more than he thinks.

“This senseless move will not make him extra money but it will turn the fans and, more importantly, sponsors away from the club.

“After so many dismal years of decline Southampton need all the publicity they can get while they fight their way back up the divisions.”

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