Mike Ashley is not winning charging journalists

Newcastle United are to start charging national newspapers fees to interview playing staff with immediate effect.

Newcastle United are to start charging national newspapers fees to interview playing staff with immediate effect. While no exact fees are yet known about the proposed move, it is yet another unbelievable move by owner Mike Ashley, against questions on just who is advising the Sports Direct mogul.

National papers now no longer have access to players between matches and that privilege will instead go to the highest bidder. Whether this means that the national titles have to outbid each other to speak to the players, or whether more than one can buy the privilege remains to be seen.

Mike Ashley: Insulting journalism

The club are offering gold, silver and bronze packages to the press and again questions are to be asked about what this means. Does bronze mean access for a less popular player? If so that won’t be good for team morale but then Mike Ashley has never been one for keeping anyone but himself happy.

This proposal is ridiculous on so many levels that thinking about it beggars belief. Firstly, it’s an insult to industry of journalism to propose such a scheme, especially at time when many print titles are struggling to turn a profit.

It’s no secret that digital media, that being web and broadcast, are fast becoming the most popular avenues for news and that is unfortunately hitting the revenue of newspapers. By forcing them to pay fees, which will no doubt be many thousands of pounds – the already tight purse of the print titles will be squeezed even more and it will be the reader who picks up the cost.

Secondly, it’s baffling that after banning local NCJ Media titles, The Chronicle, The Journal and Sunday Sun from the club are now forcing the hand of the national press. Much of the national press if not all is in favour of The Chronicle and its sister titles and it could be that Mike Ashley is deciding to punish that allegiance with this scheme.

Call time on this idea

And finally, it’s amazing that not one of the PR team at Newcastle United has stood up and said what the rest of the media world is thinking—this idea won’t work. It’s counter-productive, for the club need the press to promote it in a positive light and yet they’re requesting a fee to do so. Anyone with any knowledge of journalism will see this idea as ludicrous and yet another example of Mike Ashley isolating the club from the fans.

It’s unlikely that any of the national titles will pay the requested fees; one has already rejected the idea out right while another national journalist suggested that the Premier League may intervene on the matter.

This is yet another sign that Mike Ashley is simply about the money, he doesn’t care about the fans whatsoever. This is the first time a scheme like this has been proposed and there is a reason for this, simply other owners of clubs understand the importance of the media.  But more than that they understand for the fans, the national paper from The Daily Mirror to The Telegraph is the source of information for many.

Obviously, Ashley understand this and is trying to make a quick buck but it won’t work – he’ll back track soon enough.  One important question remains though, is Sports Direct News – Mike Ashley’s media organisation – to be charged for exclusive or in the same way that Sports Direct is given free advertising through St James Park – are they to be let off without paying the fee that everyone else is asked to pay.

What do you think about Newcastle United’s decision? Have your say in the comments section below.