Silence is golden?

  • by Gordon Thrower
  • Monday, 29th October 2007

When you get home from the Bolton match on 4 November there will be something different about KUMB.com's coverage of the match.

There'll still be match reports from East Stand Martin and (when I get back from study leave) my own less accomplished efforts will also appear. However what will be missing will be our coverage of the post match press conference.

We've had access to the managers post-match for about four years now. We were there when then QPR boss Ian Holloway went into a 20 minute ramble about what a great game football was. We were there when a distinguished journalist who ought to have known better cheesed off Alan Curbishley enough for the Hammers boss to walk out after less than a minute. We even turned up when Sir Alex Ferguson couldn't be bothered to. Twice.

But no more.

When we popped in to pick up a team sheet prior to the Sunderland game I was told that we would not be welcome after the match any longer. When I asked why no reason was given but I was told that the club's press officer, Miranda Nagalingam, had issued an order that we were no longer to be allowed in and that the order should have been effective from the start of the season.

You may wonder what heinous crime we had committed to have been summarily dismissed in this manner. I know I did. So we asked Miranda. We were given a variety of reasons, none of which were particularly convincing.

Firstly we were told that The Premier League had issued an order banning non-accredited journalists from attending press conferences. This at least is partly true. The PL has indeed issued an edict that suggests press coverage of matches should be restricted to those with accreditation. This was alluded to in a spectacularly poor article written for the ESPN Soccernet website by someone hiding behind the pseudonym "The Insider" who bemoaned the fact that the press-box was full of "dozens of free-loading tourists".

Well I'll admit I have availed myself of the odd sandwich if there were any left over, and the very wonderful Milly has always made sure there's been a warming cuppa waiting for me on a cold day. However, I don't go into the press box. Never have. Furthermore, I suspect that having laid out the better part of ?800 for my season ticket, I may have paid a little bit more to get into the match than "The Insider" which hardly qualifies me for "freeloader" status!

However, our contact at the PL said the decision should ultimately rest with the club and, when we put this to Miranda, she admitted that the PL's edict had little to do with her decision.

It was then suggested that I had been told at the start of the season that we'd no longer be welcome and that I'd turned up every week anyway. This was just nonsense. The club has contact details for both me and the editor and Miranda even has my work email address but, until the Sunderland match, nobody had said a word. Indeed, it's a little strange that, if that had been the case, Miranda hadn't seen fit to say anything to me at any of the 5 conferences that she'd seen me turn up for this season.

The next excuse given was that there had been complaints from the Sunday papers that we'd been putting the press conference transcripts up on the site straight after the match on a Saturday night before they'd had a chance to go into print. Well I'll have to plead guilty to that one (though by the time I'd finished typing up Holloway's ramblings it must have been nearly Tuesday!).

In my defence I would say that I rather foolishly thought that that was the whole point of websites - that news appears instantaneously. Do the Sunday papers issue similar complaints to www.bbc.co.uk? Are we that much of a threat to their circulation?

Of course we did score heavily over the papers in one respect. It was our policy to publish the managers' comments in full - the only edits were normally grammatical, or, in the case of away managers, we might omit team news that would be of little interest to Hammers. As far as I'm aware we were the only place that would cover the conferences in such detail - even the official site usually only gives edited highlights.

This is in stark contrast to the version you read in your Sundays, where managers' comments are often selectively quoted to make a more sensational read. Indeed I've lost count of the number of times I've pointed people on this site to the full transcript of a conference with the words "what he actually said was......" You'd think the club would be grateful wouldn't you? Apparently not.

It seems a shame, that in a year when the new owners have done a lot to improve relations and communications between the club and the fans, it has now taken what many might consider to be a retrograde step.

Still on the bright side it'll give me an extra hour in the pub post match and the long hours of typing on a Saturday night will be a thing of the past.

Just don't tell 'er indoors!

* Something to say about this story? Please visit the KUMB Forum to leave a comment.

Related News