League One football club Southampton is refusing all requests for photographers wishing to cover its home fixtures this season.
Instead it has informed media organisations that it will be syndicating images from all home fixtures via local agency, Digital South Limited.
It has told media that ‘no access will be granted to external photographers’and instead invited newspapers and others to obtain photos from Digital South.
9 August update: Agency Digital South has told Press Gazette that it decided to decline the Southampton syndication deal, informing the club of its decision on Thursday, 5 August.
The move has led to a formal letter of protest being sent to the club by executive director of the Society of Editors Bob Satchwell.
In it he said: ‘We are most concerned that you intend to limit photographic access to one agency. This is bound to be raised by many news organisations across the country and I wonder if you can please explain to me precisely what the status of photographs applied for by the agency will be? Who will choose the images which are sent out and on what basis will that choice be made and will there be a charge for these photographs?
‘Your policy would appear to raise serious issues of press freedom and editorial choice which I feel sure you would agree should not be threatened. That would only serve to damage the reputation of your club, football in general and the proper function of the news media.
‘As you are aware the media is football’s greatest supporter both locally and nationally and there has long been a mutually beneficial relationship that is in danger of being undermined.”