Agency boss refuses to sign Southampton FC pics deal

A plan by Southampton Football Club to ban all photographers bar one agency from its ground this season appears to have run into trouble already.

The club informed media last week that it had made a deal with Digital South photo agency for it to have a monopoly on photojournalism at home games this year and then syndicate pictures to other media.

But agency boss Robin Jones has now revealed that he has refused to sign the deal with the club.

And Telegraph Media Group has announced that it will not use any photos provided under such a deal. The Sports Journalists Association has also recommended that no sport or picture editors use Southampton photos provided under such a deal.

Jones said he was approached with the syndication contract by Southampton on July 30, seven days before the start of the new football season.

He said in a statement: ‘I disagreed with their stance on a total ban of photographers from any media source.

‘I voiced this opinion to the club and genuinely thought that the ban would not take place. It became clear to me on Thursday that this ban was indeed happening and so I rang the club to inform them of my decision to decline their offer.

‘Basically, a ban on photographers is simply a bad idea We felt that we were between a rock and a hard place, because we are sure that another agency or photographer might come forward to do this work for Southampton. But it is not something we are prepared to do.”

SJA secretary Steve Downes is today quoted on the SJA website saying: ‘In these tough economic times for the media, Digital South has opted to do something which will cost their business.

‘Robin and his colleagues should be thanked by all sports journalists for taking a difficult, principled stance.”

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