Pic row escalates as Mail is barred from England game

Daily Mail hit back by blanking out advertising hoardings at international

The chief executive of the Premier League has stepped into the increasingly acrimonious row between football clubs and the press over accreditation, agreeing to a top-level summit.

Richard Scudamore has contacted Newspaper Publishers Association director Steve Oram to say he agrees there should be an urgent meeting before the new football season begins.

“He says there is a lot to discuss and we should do it soon,” said Oram. Scudamore’s press office said: “At the moment we are formulating a cohesive view of all our member clubs in order that we can go ahead with the constructive negotiations we have always had with the NPA in the past.”

The Football Association, though, is not expected to take part.

The animosity between the FA and papers is escalating sharply. At the England versus Serbia & Montenegro match at Leicester on Tuesday, the FA produced entry contracts for photographers to sign at the last minute – just as they did at the FA Cup Final on 17 May, when the forms appeared at 1pm for a 3pm kick-off.

The Daily Mail refused to sign for the international match and its two photographers were barred. Managing editor Lawry Sear said the paper would not be bounced into signing contracts it had not had time to consider.

Daily Mail sports editor Colin Gibson said: “It just shows the type of misguided management which has led the FA to the brink of bankruptcy. It’s a pathetic attempt to ambush photographers on the day of a game.”

Other national newspaper groups, including News International, have sent legal letters to the FA over its obstinate refusal to produce contracts in time for consultation.

The Daily Mail has been blocking out sponsors names from every advertising hoarding in match and training ground pictures since the Cup Final in Cardiff. On the day after that match some Sunday newspapers were careful to carry pictures which did not show sponsors’ names on players’ shirts.

Gibson commented: “It shows how much the FA care about their sponsors and about the people who are trying to bail them out of the mess they are in that they haven’t even noticed this. “They are more concerned about trying to ambush the photographers. At this stage, we are in a position where they are actually damaging the only people left who can save the FA from the financial mire. The only reason they are doing it is because they refuse to discuss the document before forcing it on photographers.”

Oram is hoping for an informal meeting with the FA next week.

The next big battleground over accreditation facing journalists is a global one. For the Rugby World Cup, due to be held in Australia at the end of the year, entry terms are described as “very seriously restrictive on copyright owners”. Oram has expressed publishers’ concern to International Marketing Group, handling RWC arrangements. “We have sent IMG our standard terms and principles and pointed out the differences,” he said.

The UK press is being joined in this protest by Australian newspapers, which also object to the IMG terms.

By Jean Morgan

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