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Søndag d. 27. oktober 2002
Portsmouth chairman bars reporters
By Charlie Norton (Filed: 25/10/2002)
Fans of Portsmouth Football Club, who are riding high at the top of the
First Division, may soon be wondering about a change in the way their home
matches are reported in Telegraph Sport.
Portsmouth have indefinitely banned Daily Telegraph reporters from matches
at Fratton Park after chairman Milan Mandaric
deemed a match report
"insulting and inflammatory".
Mandaric took offence at comments made by Telegraph reporter Peter
Bainbridge on Sept 30 after a 3-0 home win against Bradford City. The
article included references to Mandaric "as a chairman renowned for hiring
'em and firing 'em", and a phone call and a fax from the chairman on Oct 1
said Bainbridge would not be issued with another press pass.
Mandaric, who has 'hired and fired' four managers since he took over
Portsmouth in 1999, expressed his "disgust" in the fax, referring to the
report as "a work of art on nonsense totally unconnected".
After correspondence with Telegraph Sport editor David Welch, who defended
the reporter's right to express his opinion, Mandaric wrote that "press
privileges for your paper have been withdrawn forthwith".
These comments came a few weeks after Mandaric had made this statement to
Portsmouth fans: "I have to be big enough to take criticism even if I find
it unfounded and unwarranted."
Welch said: "It is very sad that a Football League chairman should feel
justified in banning a reporter and, subsequently, a responsible newspaper,
from a ground simply because he does not appreciate the tone of a report of
one of his club's matches.
"If we were to stop covering teams whose play we do not approve of, there
would be little in the paper some weekends.
"I feel sorry for followers of Portsmouth who read our newspaper, but we are
not going to succumb to such intimidating tactics. They are far too evident
already in football these days. If Mr Mandaric chooses to withdraw press
facilities at Portsmouth I am sure we will survive without them. There are
always other options open to us."
Paddy Thomas, chairman of the Portsmouth Supporters' Association, conceded
that Mandaric wore his heart on his sleeve. "He's very, very sensitive and
at times he acts from the heart, not the head, for what he thinks are the
best reasons. It's this which endears him to supporters," Thomas said.
"Obviously any fall-out with the media is disappointing but The Daily
Telegraph is undoubtedly suffering the effects from the continuous
negativity of the local press in Portsmouth."
But the ongoing problems with the local press are solely in the eyes of the
club, according to Mike Gilson, editor of the Portsmouth Evening News, who
said the paper had asked questions of the club but had always been
informative and supportive.
"We pride ourselves on reporting accurately and fairly but we ask questions,
as we should as a local paper in the backdrop of the club. We've had our ups
and downs but our relations are pretty good."
Mandaric paid £5 million for Portsmouth. He is a millionaire from Serbia who
made his money in California's Silicon Valley. He owned two clubs in the
United States before buying French First Division side Nice. He was
reprimanded by the Football League last season when he temporarily withheld
players' wages after a defeat against Grimsby.
Mandaric refused to comment despite repeated approaches from Telegraph