Clubs are showing signs of fighting back at journalists


By Tony Attwood

What most of us want, I think, is a media that presents facts as facts, and commentary as commentary, each in a balanced and considered manner.   Sadly this is not something the UK newspaper industry is particularly well known for.

And indeed nor have they been well-known for accuracy for some time.   For it is now over ten years since both Mirror Group Newspapers (owning the Mirror, Sunday People, Express, Star, and the Record)  and Associated Newspapers (owning the Mail, Metro, i-newspaper and New Scientist) were found guilty of contempt of court.  It was just one of a series of bust-ups the media has had with the law.

But by and large, of course, the media carry on and publish what they like, particularly in relation to football.   However at last there seems to be a bit of a fightback going on, and not just with newspapers.

For example, Jürgen Klopp yesterday accused Amazon TV presenter Marcus Buckland of not understanding the impact of Liverpool’s scheduling, saying, “I realise that you don’t understand it as well, even when you work in football, so why should I explain again? If you make a joke of that you are completely ignorant.”

Meanwhile Manchester United have removed the press passes of a number of journalists including those from the Mirror, ESPN, Sky Sports, and the local Evening Newspaper after the paper published articles about the players losing faith in the manager over issues such as the quality of some of the recent signings.

Manchester United have also taken offense at the way newspapers publish stories without asking the club to comment on the story first, so that the club can reply to the comment.   Of course, the media don’t have any obligation to ask for comments – but the clubs are now saying that if that is the case, they don’t have any obligation to work with the media.    However, I believe that in the contracts with Sky and TNT there are obligations to do pre- and post-match interviews in a co-operative and meaningful manner.

In previous eras, clubs were keen to co-operate with the media because there was no guarantee that every game would be sold out and it was felt that publicity was needed to encourage the crowds.  Indeed if one looks back to the 1970s, in the years when Arsenal were performing averagely in the league the ground would regularly be only half full.

But if we go back further still there were times when in response to what were considered negative reports, Arsenal banned all the media from the ground.

Now once more, many clubs in the Premier League feel that the media serves no purpose for them, as that the media (as we have regularly noted here) follow their own agendas in order to serve themselves, by having sensational stories day after day, which often have little to do with any form of reality.

However one of the problems for the clubs is that the media will continue to make up its own stories, and if they ban certain journalists those stories are likeky to become more and more negative.  And as has often been seen, a story doesn’t have to be repeated that often to become something that most people believe, even if the story is untrue.

Certainly, for now, the relationship between the media and truth is, as we have often noted, very shakey.   For a number of years through each summer, we have gathered details of the transfer rumours that the media published from the end of the season to the closure of the transfer window, and in most seasons only about three percent of the transfers that are predicted by the media come to pass.

However what annoys the clubs on this score is the fact that most of these transfers are not serious attempts at transfers which then fail, but stories made up by the media that imply that the clubs are not doing their jobs properly.

It is, of course, possible that the current arguments and banning orders might fizzle out, especially as the clubs realize that whether they talk to journalists or not will not make a blind bit of difference to the fantasies that the journalists make up.

But it is also just possible that if the relationship between clubs and journalists breaks down, the media might finally turn its attention to the elephant in the room: the PGMO which is there always controlling, always refusing to be interviewed, but never a topic for much newspaper debate.

10 Replies to “Clubs are showing signs of fighting back at journalists”

  1. I believe certain clubs and their incumbent managers have at times been known to ‘have a go’ at the media, but it is rare and depends who you are, and perhaps more importantly, what club you work for.

    Regarding what Klopp said, of course he is correct. But he said this to who? To which broadcaster? Amazon. Hmmmm. I would take more heart if he said something similar to Neville or Carragher.

    I believe United have banned reporters before under the Fergie reign. But who have they banned?

    Again, ban Neville or Carragher and I’d again take heart.

    Also if Arteta said what Klopp did it would be all over the media as another ‘Rant’. Similarly if we started banning reporters it would be turned against, us you can be sure of that.

    Basically, United and Liverpool are in a unique position whereby, rightly or wrongly, the media see them differently to everyone else. If they get banned by them they take it serious. They see access to those 2 as imperative. Where as if we start those ‘shenanigans’ they would just mock and turn it against us.

    As much as I would like it to be so, I don’t see a Liverpool manager or Manchester United football club having a pop as a sign that there is any sort of uprising against the media.

    I wish I could take some hope from it but alas, just like back in the day, Fergie always had a point, where as Wenger was always whinging. Nothing has changed.

  2. “However, I believe that in the contracts with Sky and TNT there are obligations to do pre- and post-match interviews in a co-operative and meaningful manner”.

    This is the point I made regarding Arteta being charged for what he said in his post match comments after the Newcastle match. Surely if you insist somebody speaks to the media, you also expect them to be honest?

    If there is some kind of ‘contract’ between club and media, does it say you can only praise the officials?

    Does it say you cannot criticize the officials?

    If the clubs signed up to this, well more fool them.

    I cant see why they would, so assuming not, then surely what is expected of managers is HONESTY. If a manager sees a performance as poor to the point of embarrassing, then surely under guise of honesty and integrity he is obliged to say so?

    Or are the PL,FA PGMO ect. in fact saying, we expect you to answer questions, not with honesty and integrity, but in a way that will always cast the officials in a good light.

    A joke.

  3. “If the clubs signed up to this, well more fool them.”
    Well, yes, more fool them. But the point is that there is a total disconnect between the people engaged in making money for the club, and the people engaged in getting the team to win. Those in the clubs who are involved in gaining income will give the TV companies whatever they want for more cash, and then just tell their manager – we’ve signed up to this.
    The manager doesn’t complain a) because he’s well paid and b) because more money for the club ultimately means more money for transfers.

  4. “Those in the clubs who are involved in gaining income will give the TV companies whatever they want for more cash, and then just tell their manager – we’ve signed up to this.”

    Very possible.

    This disconnect of which you speak manifested itself back in Wenger’s era, when the owners refused point blank to support him, at least overtly, with regards to his restricted spending. As such, it was left to Wenger and Wenger alone, to face all the media abuse for Arsenals resultant 9 year trophy draught.

    But back to the point, I still find it hard to believe they would be stupid enough sign up to something that said the manager will have to lie about a referees/VARs performance, which is effectively what they will of done if they signed up to something that said they will never criticize officials.

    How can it be fair, right, or even legal to force a manager to lie, and then punish him if he refuses to do so?

    The alternative to lying would be ‘no comment’ and I can guarantee you he would be punished for that as well.

    So, he is absolutely obliged to lie. Nah, simply cannot be legal.

    I think the Lawyers could rip them to pieces if they so wished, the only problem is, subsequently they could stitch us up even more.

  5. Turn those media questions around . If the question is “well, Mikel what about that Newcastle goal ?” (Nudge nudge wink wink) Answer : ” I couldnt possibly comment what do you think? ” or ” Well, that’s a good question what do you think?”
    Answer none of their loaded questions .
    We all know they want the big headline ; they question-you answer-they pounce.
    So bore them to death, they write whatever they want anyway let them spout the usual inane bilge .

  6. My take, going the absurd angle :

    managers, after each game ought to say a standard sentence, all of them, game after game, in the tune of :

    – we are happy to be guided by the PGMO, shining light of football in the PL and such an extraordinry example of professionalism and competence.

    And any question about refereeing ought to be answered this way….

  7. Les and Chris

    The problem is, despite everyone knowing what a pigs ear they are making of it, nobody sticks together. The fans are so tribal they just attack anyone else who gets upset, which I kind of get because this fan mind set has been ingrained since football began.

    But as we witnessed recently following Artetas criticism of VAR, even managers wont stick together as disappointingly both Postecoglou AND Guardiola have made sarcastic remarks about Arteta, rather than standing together.

    If we are looking for unity between foes as a way to improve matters it appears it just isn’t going to happen.

  8. @Nitram,

    yep, I know…just being sarcastic.

    I was wondering what punishment would have been handed to Arteta had a picture of him screaming at the referee like Haaland did been published…. really….

  9. Chris

    Exactly. Everyone with half an eye can see the hypocrisy.

    A ban for running out of the technical area in joy and elation.

    A charge for a considered, if somewhat critical, statement about VAR, a statement that everyone knew was accurate, as I showed with all the journalists identical historic and recent criticisms.

    But nothing for screaming in the face of the referee in rage.

    I don’t even mind Harlaand being that outraged. I even understand his reaction. It happens. It was a very poor decision.

    But, surely if you’re going to charge someone for a technicality of leaving his technical area in JOY. If you are going to charge someone for a considered critique of a poor performance by the officials, surely you have to charge someone for the much worse offence of verbally abusing an official on the field of play?

    It seems not.

    I liked Ange and Pep. No more. I detest sneaky back stabbers, especially ones that are supposed to be friends, aye Pep!!!

  10. Surely that’s the Arsenal reply , prints of Haaland and his “RANT” shown to the Pgmo and then the question ” So you’re ok with this ?” Then clearly state that if things get out of hand and the referee is approached in the Haaland way by any Arsenal player saying exactly the same words and giving it the full starey eye ,slavering mouth. wild gesticulations then that too will be ok? Sign here . thankyou gentlemen that will be all and if I hear any more on that score you’ll be hearing from our lawyers .

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