Row between leagues and press settled in extra time

A marathon eight-and-a-half-hour meeting between the Premier and Football Leagues and the press on Tuesday has resulted in a draw.

THE PRESS must inform clubs in advance who will cover matches and for which publications, but there will be no bureaucratic accreditation process.

The leagues reserve the right to license any commentary, film, photography, text and data information which is to be used for anything other than the match report and to charge a fee for it.

The new conditions were hammered out in time for the start of the new football season this Saturday and are a long way from the draconian demands first made in May by the leagues. They had wanted reporters to produce bona fides before being allowed into press boxes and to promise not to write anything that damaged the reputation of the leagues, the clubs or their players.

The first demands had met with anger and antagonism from the whole industry.

Under the new scheme, football reporters can file for publication at any time but their reports can only be published at set times during matches – between the 20th and 25th minutes, at half-time, between the 65th and 70th minutes, at the end of the match and after extra time. Statistics can appear at the end of the match.

This, according to Paul McCarthy, president of the Football Writers’ Association, would cover 95 per cent or more of his members.

On his way to set the two-year deal before the association, McCarthy said: "We are very pleased we have made a lot of progress from those days in May when it looked as if the imposition of censorship was very much on the cards. We are very optimistic this new scheme will get the approval of our membership. There are windows of opportunity for websites to produce running copy and statistical data but they would have to do that under licence from the clubs and pay for it."

All those at the meeting thought the intervention of Richard Scudamore, chief executive of the FA Premier League, had been essential.

Steve Oram, director of the Newspaper Publishers Association, said: "The outcome is not ideal by any stretch of the imagination. It doesn’t give us what we want but, having said that, I don’t believe we will get a better deal. It was a question of accepting the deal or there wouldn’t be access to press boxes."

Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors, said: "I feel we’ve managed to move a long way from what appeared to be a serious threat to the freedom to report and comment on football. We’ve removed all the unacceptable conditions and hope we have achieved something all our members will find accessible."

The PPA, the NUJ and Trinity Mirror regionals were also represented at the meeting.


By Jean Morgan

No comments to display

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *