Guardian and Observer banned from football press box 'for going to match'

Championship football club Nottingham Forest has banned journalists from The Guardian and The Observer from its home ground’s press box.

The ban came about after The Observer’s chief football writer Daniel Taylor attended a game at Forest’s City Ground in March but did not file a match report.

Although the match in question took place six months ago, an email informing the sports desk that the papers would be banned arrived only “a few days ago”, as Taylor wrote in his Observer column this weekend.

Taylor added that the situation “is best described as bizarre” as football reporters regularly attend matches without writing up reports.

 “In March I requested a press-box ticket for their home match against Wolverhampton Wanderers,” he continued, explaining how the ban came about. “It is what a football correspondent does: watch games, meet people, see the managers, get information…

“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.”

Taylor also claimed that another journalist – an unnamed freelance who had covered the club for 40 years – has also been banned and the club’s local paper, the Nottingham Evening Post, “has been ostracised”,

Guardian sports editor Ian Prior told Press Gazette: “While newspapers do fall out with clubs from time to time and incur bans, it’s possibly unique to be banned from a ground for going to a game.”

In his column, Taylor suggested that one of the club’s director’s, Jim Price, who he describes as “effectively Forest’s chief executive” has been “picking off the journalists he suspects of having ties with the previous regime, which sacked [current manager Billy] Davies, and which he openly dislikes.”

Nottingham Forest has issued a statement on the club's official Twitter account. It read: "On 15 March 2013 the club identified the possibility that DataCo regulations had been breached. 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."

A spokesperson for Guardian News & Media said: “We can confirm that the Guardian and The Observer have been banned from the press box at Nottingham Forrest as part of the club's ongoing media issues."

Last season, Newcastle United banned journalists from the Telegraph from attending matches after Luke Edwards wrote about a potential row between the players and manager Alan Pardew.

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