National newspaper reporters were refused entry to football press boxes over the weekend as news organisations failed to reach a deal with the Premier League and Football league over new media accreditation rules.
According to The Times, journalists were forced to cover matches from the stands – rather than the press box – and by making use of broadcast reports.
Coverage of the Community Shield match yesterday between Manchester United and Manchester City was not affected by the dispute as it is organised by the Football Association.
The dispute centres around new restrictions which football authorities want to impose on live match reporting, interaction with readers and the use of social media sites such as Twitter.
Negotiations between football authorities and news groups broke down on Wednesday and publishers have declined to sign the agreement.
News organisations have retaliated by removing the names of sponsors from coverage.
A spokesman for the News Media Coalition (NMC), which is negotiating on behalf of news media, said that the leagues’ actions amounted to ‘arrogance’and were a ‘rejection of press freedom”.
In a leader comment, The Times said today:
‘By restricting match reporting, football’s bosses once again show their ineptitude.”
It states: “Instead of encouraging maximum coverage of matches on a marquee weekend, football’s ruling bodies have minimised the projection of their product, to the detriment of fans and sponsors alike.
“As for the clubs, some were eager to let reporters in and thought the dispute absurd, some insisted newspapers were not welcome and some were not aware there was an issue at all. One Championship team was happy to welcome writers into the press box on condition they pretended their reports were written from the terraces.
“It was a characteristically chaotic performance. There was no unity, no vision; merely a kneejerk fear of the future and openness. On a day that should have been about promoting football, the Premier League and Football League proved themselves relegation material.”