As the football Premier League race enters its final lap Axegrinder has decided to compile his own table of the football clubs who come top when it comes to being beastly to the press.
In a sport renowned for preening primadonnas, who treat journalists with about as much respect as the wives who they frequently (allegedly) cheat on, Axegrinder was spoilt for choice when it came to compiling this league of shame.
Manchester United finish far higher in Axegrinder's league than they will in the real one thanks to the club's long tradition of media aninimosity. Sir Alex Ferguson famously refused to speak to the BBC for years, and successor David Moyes continued this proud Old Trafford tradition by banning the Mirror's David McDonnell for revealing a starting line-up before its official release.
Temporary player coach Ryan Giggs, who already has form after famously injuncting the entire media to prevent it from revealing his extra marital away fixtures, should carry on the tradition.
Here is Axegrinder's table for clubs who come top at being bottom for PR:
1 – Newcastle United
Manchester United may have the history, but this North East club’s recent form has been second-to-none, with manager Alan Pardew (pictured above) even blaming the local press for a run of poor results. The North East club banned the Telegraph last year because it reported dressing room discord and then the local press ban came about in the wake of reports of a fan protest against the club.
2 – Manchester United
With a new manager with a strong record of opposing free speech, the Red Devils deserve their place in the top flight when it comes to bad PR.
3 – Sunderland
The Sun declared war on Newcastle’s rivals last month, referring to them only as Derland, after the paper was banned for revealing starting line-ups.
4 – Nottingham Forest
After some very strong early season form, Forest sacrificed a top spot in Axegrinder’s league for a shot at the Championship play-offs. Manager Billy Davies, who announced he would not be speaking to any media (including his own club’s website) during a five-match ban in March, was sacked shortly afterwards.
5 – Chelsea
The West London club have done their best to keep beneath the radar, but manager Jose Mourinho’s recent refusals to answer questions from – and even speak to – the press have been noted.
Another side whose form has dipped in recent months, Cardiff City had a very strong run earlier this season as former manager Malky Mackay was reportedly banned from attending a manager’s press conference. Journalists were also prevented from tweeting and phoning in live stories from the conference.
7 – Rotherham United
The Rotherham Advertiser was banned from this club after running a “disproportionate” front page story last year about a six-year-old who was not allowed to be a mascot because of a kit shortage.
8 – Port Vale
Stoke Sentinel reporters were banned from home matches after a report about former chairman Paul Wildes resigning.
9 – Crawley Town
Crawley Town had a strong start to the season, upholding a ban on a reporter from last April, but this was lifted in November shortly before manager Richie Barker was dismissed.
10 – Swindon Town
This club look set to be relegated from Axegrinder's division with not enough censorship being seen. A Swindon Advertiser reporter was banned from the club for tweeting that a player was to return to the squad – but this was lifted just a week later.
Commentary: It's tight at the top, but, under their current management, its difficult to see Newcastle being caught up. Despite banning The Sun and the Mirror earlier this year, German champions Bayern Munich were not considered for this UK league.