Alec Swann - Toon commit another PR howler

Northamptonshire Telegraph's sports writers Jon Dunham, Jim Lyon and Alec Swann.
Northamptonshire Telegraph's sports writers Jon Dunham, Jim Lyon and Alec Swann.

Newcastle’s 1-0 victory at Old Trafford last weekend was one of the more eye-catching results of their recent past.

Their first success at the home of Manchester United for 41 years should be, you would think, a cause for celebration among those of a black and white persuasion.

But, as has been their wont since the current hierarchy took charge, public relations gaffes are a speciality and this week is no different.

Not too long after banning the local press from access because their coverage of certain events was deemed to be overly critical, they have now decided to charge newspapers for the right to cover the club.

According to letters sent to various establishments in the area and nationally, three levels of package will be available depending on what each paper would require.

This is the latest in a trend that has worryingly started to gather pace and could quite easily become widespread.

Not so long ago, Port Vale demanded £10,000 from their local newspaper to cover them and Nottingham Forest excluded their city’s publications because they would rather distribute news via their own website.

There is the argument that the printed side of the media should be no different to their broadcast cousins and should have to pay for the privilege but this is very misguided and extremely shortsighted.

In simple terms, which have obviously sailed right over the heads of those in charge at Newcastle, don’t they want the free publicity?

The editor of the paper deemed persona non grata by Port Vale made an excellent point in response to the financial demands placed upon his organisation when he said that he would send a counter invoice for the thousands of pounds that identical advertising space over the years would have cost.

If a club like Port Vale don’t want the coverage then there is something going dramatically wrong.

Look at this how you want, but all of this is an attempt to exercise editorial control over what is printed about the respective clubs and if any newspaper gives in then more fool them.

If you pay for the top available package at St James’ Park, will the access be unlimited? That’s a rhetorical question.

Is the news presented by Forest on their website balanced and impartial? And so is that.

If you would rather read lifeless, cliched and packaged stories then go to a website but it some sort of objectivity and an opinion that isn’t held accountable by those being reported on is your bag then stick to what has worked for over a century.

A newspaper covers a football club, or any sporting organisation, to attract readers and this, in turn, will hopefully encourage those readers to go and watch the club in question.

This then should lead to tickets being bought, shirts being sold, food and drink being consumed and an affinity being created.

If you can’t see the mutual benefits then you really haven’t understood the whole issue.

Newcastle, not that they seem to care, are painting themselves in a particularly poor light but, depressingly, I bet they won’t be the last.