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Newspaper responds to being banned by football club... by banning football club

The Bournemouth Echo has taken the unusual measure of introducing a zero-coverage policy on AFC Bournemouth.

The front page of the Bournemouth Echo last month.
The front page of the Bournemouth Echo last month.
Image: holdthefrontpage.co.uk

DENYING SPORTS JOURNALISTS access to football matches and the media activity which surrounds them has become increasingly popular in recent times.

Fergie tried to have Rob Harris of the Press Association banned last year when he hinted at Ryan Giggs’ super-injunction while questioning the Manchester United manager and only last week, the BBC’s Dan Roan was told he won’t be allowed take in games at the Etihad Stadium from now on.

However, we’ve never come across a reaction quite like this before.

As reported by footballwriters.co.uk, the Bournemouth Echo was last month told by Npower League One outfit AFC Bournemouth that their reporters and photographers would not be permitted from attending any activities at Seward Stadium indefinitely.

The local paper, which relies heavily on its coverage of the Cherries, was given the harsh news after a 3-0 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough on March 12.

In his post-match comments, manager Lee Bradbury, who has since been sacked, branded the performance “immature”, a quote which was used in the intro of the match report.

So what did the Echo do? Well, they fought fire with fire and imposed a ban of their own.

There is now zero coverage of Bournemouth in the paper,” said sports editor Neil Meldrum.

“We realise to some extent we are letting readers down but I am sure they would rather us be an independent voice than some kind of PR vehicle for the club. Initially a few held us to account but generally supporters have said they believe the club made the wrong decision.”

“Obviously AFC Bournemouth not being in the paper is a big hole to fill. They were our bread and butter. But we have the biggest speedway club in the country who attract crowds not dissimilar to Bournemouth. We have a lot of local people involved in the Olympics, we have a vibrant non-league scene plus cricket so there’s lots going on.

They perceived a lot of our coverage as negative but after five or six straight defeats, especially when the club spent £1.5 million on new players in January, it’s hard to pull many positives out of that. If you do that and expect zero criticism you are on another planet.”

The Echo added that they would be open to resolving the situation through discussions but insisted that the club will have to make the first move as they won’t be “crawling back to them”.

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Ben Blake

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