The Chronicle have revealed today the correspondence they received from the club in relation to the recent press ban imposed on them, and a number of other local papers, by the club. In it is a mix of paranoia, arrogance and vanity that one has suspected from the powers that be at Newcastle United, but now it has been proven.
This is the e-mail in full,
Regarding the following articles:
The Chronicle – “ Get out of Toon: Fans plan protest march in bid to oust Ashley ” (page 1 September 7)
The Chronicle – “ Toon campaign groups hoping to oust Ashley ” (pages 2 – 3, September 7)
The Chronicle – “ Fans hoping to replace Ashley ” (back page, September 7)
The Chronicle – “ Time for change – time for Newcastle fans to take charge of their own club ” (pages 50 – 51, September 7)
Sunday Sun – “ This weekend will prove how angry fans really are ” (pages 98 – 99, October 13)
The Journal – “‘ Lack of ambition’ sees fans take to the streets ” (page 12, October 19)
The Chronicle – “ March if you want him out ” (page 1, October 19)
The Chronicle – “ Anti-Ashley protesters set to take to the city’s streets ” (pages 2 – 3, October 19)
Sunday Sun – “ Hundreds join protest march as Kinnear outlines United’s position ” (page 96)
The Chronicle – “ Disgruntled fans hit out at Ashley ” (page 8, October 21)
The Journal – “ Fans are United in their opposition to Ashley ” (page 4, October 21)
ChronicleLive – “ Frustrated fans march Newcastle’s streets in Mike Ashley prote st” (October 21)
I write in reference to the above coverage in The Chronicle, The Journal and Sunday Sun regarding the protest march on Saturday 19 October by a small number of Newcastle United fans operating under the campaign name Time4Change.
It is quite frankly staggering that you devoted 15 full pages, including two front page splashes, a back page, three double-page spreads and a remarkable six full pages in one (September 7) in The Chronicle to a protest march which ultimately was attended by approximately 300 supporters. Even if the 1,000 supporters expected by the organisers had marched your coverage would have been disproportionate. Given the turnout was significantly less than this, in fact only just over a quarter of that anticipated, something your coverage following the march failed to reference or reflect whatsoever, you should be in no doubt as to the strength of feeling that exists within the club in relation to your coverage.
Indeed after reviewing all of the above articles, and in particular, the front page headline and a large map outlining the route of the march, spread over two pages in The Chronicle on 19 October it is our opinion there was an underlying message of encouragement and support provided by your titles in the lead-up to the day and on the day itself.
We feel strongly that the turnout at the march renders your extraordinary coverage completely disproportionate. Furthermore it is evident from the scale and prominence you devoted to it that your agenda was the pursuit of sales based on an anti-Newcastle United stance, rather than a fair and balanced approach.
We could never dream of generating this level of coverage, over such an extended time-frame, for some of our positive news such as some of the fantastic work undertaken by our Foundation in the local community which benefits so many or the recent announcement of reciprocal ticket pricing for away fans which received a fraction of the coverage of the march.
Having given due consideration to the above and your response to my email of Monday 21 October, the club’s owner, director of football, board of directors and team manager have reached a unanimous decision that the three NCJ Media titles, The Chronicle, The Journal and Sunday Sun, will not be permitted access to any media facilities, press conferences and player interviews at Newcastle United indefinitely and with immediate effect.
We do not require a reply to this letter, our position on this issue is not up for negotiation.
Head of Media, Newcastle United
First and foremost I would like to point out that Miss Taylor has got her facts wrong – not surprising as Head of Media at Newcastle United it would be expected that she plays fast and loose with the facts. Not only did the march get more than 300 people – police figures on the day stated that the numbers were closer to 1000, but she clearly did not read the article written by the Chronicle dated 21st October entitled “Frustrated fans march Newcastle’s street in Mike Ashley protest” – the last article on her list, in which the Chronicle took a very neutral approach in the matter and actually reported the inaccurate 300 figure.
The arrogance of this approach by the club is startling, and I for one think it is a surprising turn of events, even from Mike Ashley who is renowned for acts of lunacy in the public domain when it comes to his decision making regarding Newcastle United.
It is obvious that not only are the cracks appearing on the field where the team suffered their second successive derby defeat in uninspired fashion, but the club are reacting badly to recent fan pressure and are seeking to contain it once and for all. However, they have taking the wrong move by alienating one of the few allies they still had left in the city in the form of the press. If fans are serious about trying to affect change in Newcastle United then I think we can do it. Another march would surely see twice as many fans attending, if not more.
Who said Ashley didn’t care what the fans think or do?
What do you think? Are you surprised by the club’s decision to ban local journalists from the ground? Does the e-mail from Wendy Taylor reflect the arrogance of the club? Do you think Ashley has overreacted this time? I’d love to hear your views.