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June 10, 2015updated 11 Jun 2015 3:48pm

Newcastle United again accused of ‘gagging’ media as Mirror and Sky Sports emerge as ‘preferred media partners’

By William Turvill

Newcastle United Football Club has once again annoyed football reporters after the club’s new manager was allegedly “gagged” from speaking to most media organisations. (Picture: Reuters)

A number of sports journalists have criticised the club after only the Mirror and Sky Sports News were allowed to interview Steve McClaren this afternoon.

According to a well-placed source, no other journalists were allowed into the conference and McClaren told them afterwards that he could not speak.

Last year, sports journalists alleged that The Sun had struck up an exclusive “media partnership” with the club. But The Sun was among the news organisations excluded this afternoon.

Simon Bird, of the Mirror, was allowed into this afternoon’s press conference. He was one of those to condemn the alleged agreement with The Sun last year. He said last July: “No national newspapers apart from The Sun invited to interview Remy Cabella yesterday. Mike Ashley gets his cash for questions wish?

“Ashley offered 'access packages' last season. Wants cosy relationship with preferred media partner to avoid criticism & help Sports Direct.”

The Sun’s David Coverdale hit back today by describing the Mirror and Sky Sports News as the club’s “preferred media partners”.

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He tweeted: “Steve McClaren gagged from speaking to any media outlet other than @SkySportsNewsHQ and @DailyMirror – #nufc's preferred media partners… So much for a fresh start at #nufc. Their new manager isn't allowed to speak to any media outlet not in bed with Mike Ashley.”

Luke Edwards, of the Telegraph, is already banned, along with his newspaper group, from the club. He tweeted this afternoon: “A little peculiar if #nufc only allowed Steve McClaren to speak to media organisations they deemed to be 'friendly' today. Surely not?!”

He added: “McClaren won't be holding a press conf Only speaking to carefully selected media partners. Real shame, missed opportunity for fresh start.”

Edwards said the "worst thing" is that the local media were also excluded.

The move was also widely condemned by a number of other sports journalists. 

Matt Lawton, the Daily Mail's chief sports reporter, tweeted: "Steve McClaren needs to show some balls here and demand all media outlets are invited to his unveiling. Already looks weak against Ashley."

The Mail's North East football correspondent Craig Hope said: "There will be no independent media interviews with new NUFC boss Steve McClaren. Preferred partners (Sky & Daily Mirror) only."

The Independent's Tom Peck said: "Newcastle United barring all but 2 media outlets from McClaren unveiling. To quote @BumbleCricket: 'It's not the media, it's the fans.'"

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