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Football coverage in newspapers about to end after Untold Media action

Untold Arsenal on Twitter @UntoldArsenal

By Tony Attwood

Curiously that headline is quite possibly true, although it is written in the misleading manner that many journalists use.  Football coverage in the press could end soon because talk between the football organisations over what rights newspapers, reporters, photographers and agencies have, have indeed broken down.

And this comes after we launched a series of Untold Media articles on this site.

Of course there’s no link between the two, and the headline doesn’t actually say there is.  It sort of suggests there is something in it.  Which there isn’t.

The big question seems to have something to do with our world however, because when the last deal between football authorities and the press was agreed there wasn’t much going on in the world of blogs.  Now blogs can be real time, covering the match second by second through a text report – and no one really thought that would happen.

The leagues have come up with a whole load of new legal controls about using football data online, and they want payment for the right to use such data on line.   The leagues also want issues about delay removed from the deal.  The press point out (for once, logically) that in the world of blogs and Flickr the notion of restricting what newspapers and agencies can cover is just childish.

But the clubs won’t have it.  They don’t want a journalist reporting live from a match to be able to interact with readers on a live blog.  Which is about as stupid as it gets, because you or I could watch the match on TV, do a commentary on our blog as it goes on, and have live interactions.  I am not sure if it would be much good, but we could.  So why stop a newspaper doing it?

The press group said, “In the absence of meaningful discussions, news organisations are in the process of identifying how best to serve their readers including loyal fans with independent news and analysis.”   Which is a bit rummy (as we used to say) given the use of the word “independent” when they should have said, “biased and warped” but we know what they mean.

Of course this is not all new stuff.   Years ago the football leagues claimed copyright over their fixture lists, and refused to give it to the football pools companies without payment of lots of dosh.  These days clubs regularly ban photographers and journalists from grounds.  Leeds I think still refuse to allow the Guardian in, and Southampton set up a system where no one could photograph games at their ground, insisting that all pics had to come from the Southampton registered photographer.  All that happened was that the press made fun of the club for a while, and I think in the end Southampton backed down.

If you try and take a big camera into Arsenal you will get reminded (hopefully gently – it was certainly gentle when I saw it happen) that this is not allowed – but no one stops people taking pics on their mobiles.

And this really is the crux of the matter.  In about three years time you will be able to get a mobile with a zoom lens that will allow a close up of players across the pitch, taken from the upper reaches of the Ems.  That might be illegal, but how do you police it?

Anyway, its all a muddle, and that would be that, if it weren’t for two other media factors in the offing.

Uefa has imposed a new centralised broadcasting deal instead of selling TV rights country by country.   No one quite knows how that will shake out but everyone interested seems to agree it is going to mean a lot less money for the big players like England and a lot more for the minnows.

And if that were not enough, don’t forget our favourite pub landlady who lets people watch Greek TV in her pub on a saturday, in order to see live EPL games.    It looks like she is winning hands down, and that will knock out the current “overseas-rights” deal which the clubs use to maximise their income.

It’s what we mere mortals call a muddle and could be  a big blow for clubs.  That of course will be Arsenal, but it is at moments like this that one is reminded that Arsenal is profitable, and the rest aren’t.  Funny old game.

The Premier League will end in 3 years time and Fifa will go with it

Do you have a scrapbook covering Arsenal in the 1970s?

Which football blogs are the top blogs?  And why???

8 comments to Football coverage in newspapers about to end after Untold Media action

  • Arvind

    @Tony – Does this effectively mean that everyone just depend on Arsenal.com for news and all the others can only “link” Arsenal.com?

    If I bought a ticket or had a press pass and went to watch the game live and had my own website or my own newspaper and wanted to cover a unique writeup on my own media..I’m not allowed now? What opinions is one allowed to express? What then happens to all the blogs around? Just a few questions..off the top of my head.

  • Shard

    Sorry..off topic..Our Champions league opponents. Udinese

  • Article on the match now on the site

  • There is no agreement as yes Arvind, so we don’t know what is allowed, but I can’t believe any club would be so stupid as to stop a blogger writing opinions – or indeed a paper come to that. But it is a fact that some clubs do ban some reporters – I mentioned Leeds and the Guardian in this regard, and I am sure there are others.

    However I can’t see how the club’s can make this work.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Does this mean talkshite will have to stop their daily diatribe (unless presumably they pay a fat fee for the rights?) Apparently on the station today, Alan Brazil announced to the world his sources told him Nasri and Wenger had a standup row on a flight during the Asian tour. No context or detail – could have been about who has the window seats for all we know… but fine investagitive journalism nonetheless

  • Ugandan Goon

    @Mandy Dodd,
    Well that just about beats the other one i heard about stan kroenke flying in to discuss barcelona’s offer for cesc!
    That’s what you’d do right? Billionaire with so much time on his hands, yeah watch the pennies and all that, couldn’t be an arsenal shareholder if you were quibbling over small change could you?

  • bob

    Ugandan Goon,
    You say what you did, but really, mate, how do you know really either way? silent stan’s the owner, yes? there’s all sorts of stuff afoot now like a Super League revolt with Arsenal implications, yes? And Arsenal has a CL qualifier to deal with that has financial stakes, yes? and the stock markets have been falling, yes? And, yet, you say stan wouldn’t care a fig about watching his pennies, yes? How can you act so certain that stan’s not around town, and that Cesc and Nasri and the rest of the transfer aren’t even one item on that financial agenda?

  • Rog B

    @Ugandan Goon Stan K is in town to attend Arsenal’s monthly board meeting(it was on Monday I believe),and for sure agenda’s at such meetings would i believe involve discussing the likes of Cesc and Nasri