Guardian accuses football club of 'slur' on reporter as it seeks explanation for ban

The Guardian has written to Nottingham Forest to ask for “a full explanation” of why its journalists have been banned from the club’s press box.

Reporters from The Guardian and The Observer have been refused accreditation at the Championship club after it claimed chief football writer Daniel Taylor breached regulations on press box tickets.

The club suggested that Taylor was not at the game “for professional purposes”, but Guardian sports editor Ian Prior has retaliated by saying the accusation is a “slur on his [Taylor's] professional reputation”.

Forest said Taylor broke rules laid out by DataCo, the company owned by the Premier League and Football League that governs media accreditation, when he attended a game in March but did not file a match report.

A statement from the club on Twitter earlier this week said: “The DataCo regulations allow journalists to obtain free tickets for professional purpose. The club sought clarification and explanation from the newspaper concerned but no satisfactory response was received. Because of this breach a ban is in place.”

But in a letter to Forest’s general manager Jim Price, seen by Press Gazette, The Guardian claimed that it has been told by DataCo and the Football Leaguee that Taylor’s attendance at the game “in no way breached their regulations”.

The letter from Prior said: “Having had no response from the media department to a previous request, I would ask that you cite what regulation our writer, Daniel Taylor, is alleged to have breached in this matter.

“The Guardian has had separate confirmation from DataCo, the Football League and the Premier League that Mr Taylor's attendance at the fixture of March 9 last in no way breached their regulations, regardless of whether he filed a live report or not. It remains our position that Mr Taylor was present in an official capacity for our newspapers in order to inform his future writings on the club.

“Furthermore, the implicit allegation that Mr Taylor was present for no other purpose than his own recreational pleasure is slur on his professional reputation and one I am unwilling to let stand without adequate explanation from the club.

"I would request that, as a matter of urgency, you now provide a full explanation behind the reasons for this ban, citing the relevant DataCo regulation."

In his Observer column last weekend, Taylor wrote: ““Forest say it broke their rules to sit in the press box and not write a match report. They won't explain why it has never been a problem before. Or why, seeing as it is common practice, we are not banned from 30 or 40 other clubs.”

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