Mike Ashley In ‘Cash For Questions’ Move At Newcastle United?
The row over Mike Ashley interfering with the freedom of the press at Newcastle United, has reared its ugly head again.
The signing of Remy Cabella was the final straw for a number of journalists covering United, who used Twitter to launch a co-ordinated attack on the club’s handling of the media.
George Caulkin of The Times made clear what had been going on, letting the public/fans know that The Sun had been the only national newspaper invited to the ‘unveilings’ of Remy Cabella, Siem De Jong, Jack Colback, Luuk De Jong and others. Meaning that this arrangement has been going on for at least seven months, if not longer.
“Been told repeatedly that Ashley wants to break tradition of papers having free access to clubs, matches, notwithstanding free advertising in return. Wouldn’t be shocked if there was an announcement of some sort of official tie-in with The Sun…”
The Mirror’s Simon Bird added to the debate with;
“No national newspapers apart from The Sun invited to interview Remy Cabella yesterday. Mike Ashley gets his cash for questions wish?
“Ashley offered ‘access packages’ last season. Wants cosy relationship with preferred media partner to avoid criticism & help Sports Direct.”
Then Luke Edwards of The Telegraph weighed in with;
“The Sun have agreed to become media partner of #nufc. In other words the newspaper version of the official website. Access but no criticism!”
The Press Gazette reported that a reliable source had told them;
“Newcastle’s press office briefed reporters last season about the proposal to restrict access of newspapers to players to nothing more than a mixed zone after the game, which is required by Premier League rules, they said exclusive interviews with new signings and players would be the main appeal of entering into a partnership with them.
“There was a clear indication that extra access would have to be paid for.”
While The Sun failed to explain why they’d been the only national newspaper invited they did reply to the accusations with;
“As part of ongoing efforts to expand our commercial partnerships, The Sun is in regular talks with businesses in a variety of areas.
“It is important to note that The Sun is not involved in any discussions that would give it exclusive access to a football club, or prevent other media outlets from having access. Nor is it considering any agreement that would compromise its editorial freedoms or independence.”
The final word going to somebody speaking on behalf of Newcastle United;
“We’ve not announced any media partnership with any newspaper so there’s nothing really else I can say.”
Whether it is official, or unofficial, there is something really off at St.James’ Park.
Any fan who thinks that this is in any way a good thing, is sadly mistaken.
While we all have moments where we want to see particular journalists/newspapers get their comeuppance. It is quite another thing for only one part of the media to get access at the expense of the rest.
Only two things flow from that situation; most Newcastle fans being cheated as their regular newspaper will not be getting the access, while on the other side of the coin, the one newspaper that does get access will undoubtedly be expected to tow the line in return – whether or not money, or a contra (exchanging of services rather than cash) deal, is involved.
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