Bournemouth Daily Echo joins football pictures protest

The Bournemouth Daily Echo has become the latest paper to refuse to carry images supplied by Southampton Football Club and will instead publish library photographs from the 1980s alongside its match report.

Southampton FC, which played host to Bournemouth in the Carling Cup last night, has drawn widespread condemnation over its decision to bar photographers from the ground and to instead sell images taken by its own in-house team to media groups.

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

Neal Butterworth, editor of the Echo, told Press Gazette in place of images from last night’s game his paper will today carry photos of the last meeting between to the two clubs, from the mid-1980s, alongside its written coverage.

The Echo will also use images sent to it by fans alongside an editorial from sports editor Neil Meldrum, a Southampton fan, explaining why the paper had taken the decision not to buy photos from SFC of the game at its St Mary’s Stadium.

“We are not going to buy any photos offered to us by the club [Southampton FC], there is no chance. It’s totally unfair what they are trying to do,” Butterworth said.

“I think the whole thing is a disgrace. This is just a crazy act…By taking on the national media he [Southampton executive chairman Nicola Cortese] has really pushed himself into a corner.”

Butterworth said the paper did not want to put “undue pressure” on the Bournemouth club photographer by asking for images from the game, so would instead satisfy readers with a snapshot of its local club’s past.

Society of editors executive director Bob Satchwell last night held out an olive branch to club bosses, saying: “I have offered to go down to the club to try to find a solution where everyone wins, the club, the media and most importantly the fans. At the moment everyone loses.”

Southampton FC issued a statement on Monday night revealing a shift of policy as it detailed how it intended to make images taken by its own photographers “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.

Digital South, the agency Southampton FC had hoped to appoint to solely run its photojournalism, then pulled out of the arrangement.

Agency boss Robin Jones told Press Gazette that he had refused to sign the deal with the club.

The Plymouth Herald got around Southampton’s ban on press photographers by commissioning a series of cartoons to accompany its report on Saturday’s victory for Plymouth Argyle at St Mary’s.

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