Football’s baffling sensitivity

According to The Guardian, football clubs – with Newcastle United at the fore – are surprise, surprise looking to make even more money and control what is written and said about them through banning reporters and providing in-house interviews with managers and players

Freedom of expression is not an ideology many club owners espouse. At St James’ Park, for example, when fans’ patience has reached breaking point (on average five times a season) extra stewards are recruited to ensure leaflets are not smuggled in or banners – which are neither defamatory or offensive – removed.

Why are football clubs so sensitive? Compared to most businesses they have a guaranteed income from television as well as a loyal customer base. If a manager described a performance as crap, there would not be a Ratneresque backlash. In fact his honesty might actually be admired.

This is not a criticism of the very good sports writers, but the amount of media coverage devoted to football is not a reflection of the revelations and insight it provides. For regional television, in particular, the resources tied up in covering manager’s pre-match press conferences has always had a detrimental impact on its ability to cover real news elsewhere.

And as for the Monday evening goals round up…