Thursday 20 January 2011

Guardian shown red card by Bates at Elland Road

The Guardian explains today why its football correspondent was banned from last night's Leeds v Arsenal FA Cup tie at Elland Road by Leeds chairman Ken Bates because of the paper's investigation into the ownership of the club.

It says: "The match report of last night's Leeds versus Arsenal FA Cup tie which appears above is written by the Guardian's football correspondent, Kevin McCarra. It's accurate, balanced and elegantly done – in the usual tradition of our football reporting. Except in one respect: McCarra wasn't at the match. We are banned from Elland Road.

"According to a club spokesman: 'The chairman will not accredit you. He won't let you in. You are banned. Indefinitely.' These are the words of Ken Bates and inside Leeds United his word is law.

"Leeds United can clearly live without live coverage from inside the ground from the Guardian and the Guardian can get by, although not by choice, by reporting the game in different ways – see McCarra and our variations involving the minute-by-minute, blogs, instant reaction and today's Football Weekly Extra podcast.

"This has come about because David Conn, the UK sports news reporter of the year, asked in a series of articles the simple question: Who owns Leeds United? Conn was joined by the then sports minister, Gerry Sutcliffe, his Tory shadow, Hugh Robertson, who now holds the post, MPs, the Leeds United Supporters Club, the national Football Supporters Federation and Supporters Direct. Even the Kaiser Chiefs weighed in.

"Leeds have told the Football League that no individual has more than 10% of the club and so they don't have to identify any of the stakeholders. The league have accepted that. So, the public still doesn't know who owns Leeds United. We would like to report Leeds's games in the normal way. But we, and others, won't stop asking that question."

  • HoldtheFrontPage reports today The Press' York City reporter Dave Flett was refused a press pass for the team's away match at Luton Town on Tuesday because the club deemed a report he wrote 'inflammatory'.

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