Rangers football club have been urged to stop “imposing charges for journalism” after outlining their new media policy.
PA Media Reporter
The Scottish champions have refused to grant access to the vast majority of reporters and photographers for today’s cinch Premiership opener against Livingston.
Although they say that decision is a one-off based on Covid restrictions, newsrooms have been told they must pay up to £25,000 for a commercial partnership if they want interview access to players and manager Steven Gerrard.
The News Media Coalition (NMC), which champions independent news coverage from events of high public interest, said in a statement: “We invite Rangers to reverse its decision to impose charging for journalism at Ibrox Stadium.
“Their new policy, which is unprecedented, fails to recognise the significant benefits to fans, the club and its commercial partners from the news media sector.
“As changes and relaxations in COVID restrictions are being introduced, we believe Rangers, other clubs and public safety authorities should identify how a strong press contingent can be accommodated alongside increased numbers of loyal fans.”
Rangers managing director Stewart Robertson claimed mainstream media organisations had to go with changing times.
“The mainstream media, mainly the papers, have had a good run at it for a number of years where they don’t pay anything,” he said in an in-house interview on Rangers TV.
“They get free access. Although in days gone by that wasn’t the case because they used to buy hospitality and advertising. As they have experienced a decline in their industry, understandably, they have looked to reduce costs. So these are areas which they have stopped spending money on.
“However they still get access – or they did get access – if you assume 50-60 games a year, that’s 100-120 times a year – to our manager and players.
“All we are saying is, you have done well out of that guys, but we have invested significant sums in our own social media platforms, and Rangers TV, and more and more of our supporters and the wider community are accessing these platforms.
“What we are saying now to the mainstream media is that you can still come to the game and report on the match but that access you get to the manager and players, we are looking to create a commercial revenue stream from that, and you are going to have to pay for that. It’s your choice, it’s a wholly commercial decision.”
Rangers earlier told media organisations that Saturday’s lack of access was due to issues accommodating 23,000 fans amid Covid restrictions.
“Unfortunately, due to the continuing social distancing requirements, we simply do not have the space to accommodate every member of the media wishing to attend this weekend,” they said.
“Consequently, we have made the decision (for what we hope is this match only) to limit access to SPFL rights holders, club media teams and Rangers media partners.
“We hope to be in a position for our UEFA Champions League qualifier on Tuesday, August 10 to welcome more media back to the stadium, should Covid-19 restrictions end in Scotland as expected.”