JOURNALISM: NEWSPAPERS CRY FOUL OVER RANGERS MATCH FEES

By Allan Rennie in Media Week

Newspapers have united against a move by Rangers to charge newspapers up to £25,000 for the privilege of covering matches and press conferences.

A sit-down interview with Steven Gerrard would be part of the deal.

For that, journalists get five exclusive interviews and a one-to-one with manager Steven Gerrard.

So far, the reaction has ranged from cool to outright outrage. The powerful SNS, who represent the Record, Sun, P&J, Herald and Scotsman, say there is 100% solidarity in refusing to pay the fee.

Rangers claim one outlet has agreed to stump up. Although they are not saying who.

The history of football and newspapers is littered with attempts to charge journalists.

Ten years ago, publishers blacked out the English Premier League when they tried to impose fees for live online coverage.

When Southampton insisted that outlets used only official club pictures, for a fee, the Swindon Advertiser depicted the action using Subbuteo players.

If you are a football marketing director it makes sense to find extra sources of revenue, especially after a year of lockdown.

However, were Rangers to win this big match it would set a precedent and prompt an avalanche of payments demands from not just Scottish clubs, but from other sports.

Previous attempts failed after sponsors got cold feet. Newspaper circulations are not what they used to be, but shirt sponsors such as Rangers’ 32Red still value the acres of free publicity they get from print and online.

Anything that reduces the number of eyeballs, leads to tricky conversations on KPIs between sponsors and clubs.

A Scottish editor said: “This is a battle that we cannot afford to lose. Yes, we get free access to cover games and conferences but we don’t charge clubs for the free ride they get from their shirt sponsors or trackside advertising.

“If we were to cave in to Rangers, others will follow. The consequence is that we be will priced out of covering mainstream sport. And with all respect, petanque doesn’t sell newspapers or drive traffic.”

According to the Daily Mail, a Rangers spokesman said: “We are very pleased that we have received positive responses to our media partnership packages.”

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