The Sun newspaper have revealed that they turned down Mike Ashley’s offer of a ‘commercial’ deal with Newcastle United AND Sports Direct for exclusive press access.
Last year The Sun were getting all kinds of exclusive interviews and other kinds of access that their rivals weren’t, leading most fans and outside commentators to assume that they had done a deal with Mike Ashley.
However, The Sun’s man covering Newcastle United in the north east, David Coverdale, has revealed that no such deal was signed.
The Sun journalist says that Mike Ashley volunteered all of the exclusive access as a series of tasters, which the newspaper happily took advantage of.
However, a point was reached when a ‘commercial’ contract arrangement was put in front of them but they turned it down
David Coverdale saying that The Sun refused because it was bad for the industry. Explaining that the deal on the table would have given exclusive NUFC press access in return for a commercial agreement with Newcastle United AND Sports Direct.
Coverdale believing then at that point, Mike Ashley moved on to The Mirror, which is the third biggest selling newspaper in the UK, behind The Sun and Daily Mail.
Last week saw no press conference laid on for Steve McClaren taking the Newcastle job, instead the only newspaper to be given access on the day was The Mirror’s north east journalist Simon Bird who had previously criticised the supposed arragement between The Sun and Newcastle United.
Speaking to the Press Gazette, this is what David Coverdale had to say, with the following introduction first from the Press Gazette piece:
Coverdale revealed that The Sun was given special access to the club, but that this stopped when the newspaper turned down the chance to enter into a “commercial” arrangement with the club and Sports Direct, which shares the same owner, Mike Ashley.
“What happened last year was Newcastle wanted The Sun to be their media partner. So this time last summer, I was being invited to exclusive interviews with new signings, which I wasn’t comfortable with, but I did.
“However, every time I checked ‘is this a deal, or is this them trying to get a deal?’ and it was always just them trying to. Nothing was ever signed.
“So effectively we were doing interviews through no ties at all to Newcastle. They were giving us tasters, almost.”
“We took all the tasters, we took all the freebies – because effectively they were just giving us interviews, giving them absolutely nothing in return…
“And then when it got to the stage where… a deal was on the table, are we going to sign it or not? That’s when we stopped it because we knew how bad it is and devastating to the industry.
“My bosses went out of their way to make sure it didn’t happen.”
“In the coming season we expect them (The Mirror) to get be getting interviews with players and the manager on a regular basis when Newcastle are going to go out of their way to strip our access back.”
“We think that what’s happening with Newcastle and the Mirror is bad for the industry, it’s bad for journalism.
“We think it sets a really dangerous precedent about the future of covering football clubs for the newspapers.
“Now Newcastle have done this, what’s to stop Manchester United trying to do a deal with the Daily Mail or Liverpool trying to do a deal with The Daily Telegraph?”
Newcastle United declined to comment.
The fact that the same company owns both The Mirror AND local titles The Chronicle, The Journal and Sunday Sun, will no doubt make many Newcastle fans wonder, whether the likes of the Chronicle suddenly regaining access during last season was mere coincidence.