Leeds United press coverage restricted over PA dispute

A four-month dispute between Leeds United and the Press Association over access rights for the agency’s photographers has led to restricted coverage of the football club in a number of newspapers.

Images of Leeds United in the national and regional press have been limited after the club barred PA photographers from its attending its home games.

The club enforced a policy from the start of this season to seek greater editorial control over the images of its games to maximise exposure for its shirt sponsors.

The move resulted in photographers from a number of leading agencies, with the exception of club-approved Varley Picture Agency and Action Images, being refused access to Elland Road on match days – however some independents working directly for papers have been granted access.

The decision to ban agency photographers led to PA reducing its coverage of the club and restricting distribution of images of Leeds away games to shots of the home team.

A PA spokeswoman said: “Press Association Sport has attempted to have constructive dialogue with Leeds United, but we have been unable to resolve the situation and get the ban lifted.

“As a result, in mid-November we took the decision to scale back Press Association Sport’s coverage of the club and supply pictures predominantly of the home team only from Leeds United away games.

“This isn’t a decision that we have taken lightly, but believe that the Leeds United ban is attempting to control the pictures that appear in the media and restrict fair media access.”

These latest developments come the day after Leeds United secured a FA Cup third round tie at Manchester United after beating Kettering Town in a replay last night.

Industry body, the Society of Editors, has now waded into the dispute by offering to broker a deal between the press and the football club.

Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors, said: “We have offered to facilitate talks between the club and media organisations so that football can be reported, without conditions, by properly accredited media representatives as it always has been, for everyone’s benefit.

“We hope to meet club officials shortly because good co-operative relationships between the media, football and sport generally are important.

“Clubs and other sports organisations, football supporters, sports fans and the public generally benefit from those relationships.”

Leeds United declined to comment.

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