My Sporting Week: Clubs should think again on banning journalists

Two journalists have been told by Rangers they are no long welcome at Ibrox. Picture: John Devlin
Two journalists have been told by Rangers they are no long welcome at Ibrox. Picture: John Devlin

Football clubs banning journalists is all the rage.

Rangers announced last week that freelance reporter and classical pianist Graham Spiers and mild-mannered BBC broadcast journalist Chris McLaughlin would no longer be welcome at Ibrox.

If they report something factual you don’t like like, tough cheese

It was a baffling decision.

Both Spiers and McLaughlin are experienced professionals and, as far as I’m aware, neither has reported anything inaccurate or false about the club.

I’ve never met either. They wouldn’t know me if I punched them in the face.

Nor am I some sainted defender of my fellow journalists. I dislike plenty of them. Undoubtedly many more dislike me.

But I can’t stand hypocrisy of this nature. If Rangers - or any other club, for that matter - were really keen on a strict policy of barring individuals for supposed misdemeanours they would probably struggle to field a team on Saturdays or admit any fans to cheer them on.

Rangers are far from the only club to pull this kind of stunt. Celtic have tried it on several occasions. But the worst offenders, by far, are down south.

Newcastle United has barred not one but three local papers. When Steve McLaren was unveiled as boss, invites were extended to Sky Sports and the Daily Mirror - no one else.

One of the benefits of a free press is that if you don’t like one particular newspaper, website or television station, there’s plenty of others to choose from.

Football clubs, as ever, view themselves as special cases. And they’re right - no other group of private companies or sports organisations in this country are afforded the same wall of blanket coverage.

The BBC has announced it will send no staff to Ibrox on matchdays while McLaughlin is banned. Good on them.

If a reporter makes a mistake, they deserve to be called out on it. But if they report something factual you don’t like, tough cheese.

Buy another paper. Switch to another station.

But supporting your club for banning reporters is childish and makes both you and them look stupid.