A bad day on the pitch became an equally awful one off it for Newcastle United on Sunday as it emerged that the club had banned journalists from a local newspaper group over recent coverage of some fan protests.
After seeing his side lose 2-1 to Sunderland in the Tyne-Wear derby at the Stadium of Light, Newcastle manager Alan Pardew faced the media at his post-match press conference but was stopped from answering any questions posed by journalists from the Newcastle Chronicle or any of its sister publications.
Club communications staff intervened whenever Chronicle, Newcastle Journal or Sunday Sun journalists tried to ask questions, with it only subsequently being revealed why the stance had been taken.
The club hierarchy were left aggrieved by the publication’s recent coverage of some fan protests against Mike Ashley’s ownership, protests staged prior to the last home game against Liverpool.
The Chronicle, which knew it had been “banned” prior to the derby match, subsequently said they did not disclose the issue earlier because they did not want the matter to overshadow Newcastle’s build-up to one of the most important games of the season.
They said the decision to ban the Chronicle group had been taken by Ashley himself, following consultation with Pardew and director of football Joe Kinnear, among others.
Alan Pardew refused to take questions from the Chronicle, Journal and Sunday Sun after Newcastle United's 2-1 loss to Sunderland.
The club believe that the Chronicle's coverage of the the Mike Ashley protest before the game with Liverpool was too harsh.
And subsequently, Pardew was gagged by his press officer in front of the national media after the painful reverse on Wearside as he lost his second successive derby.
Pardew was asked questions by both the Journal and Chronicle but before answering the questions was stopped by club press officer Wendy Taylor who said: "Sorry you can't ask any questions."
Pardew was then asked by the national media why he wouldn't answer questions but did not respond.
The stance was met with widespread outrage on Twitter.
Absolutely disgraceful. Two local journalists prevented from asking questions to Alan Pardew.— George Caulkin (@CaulkinTheTimes) October 27, 2013
NUFC banning press over their coverage of a protest by fans concerned about the club they love is truly, truly disgraceful. #Time4Change— Sachin Nakrani (@SachinNakrani) October 27, 2013
As for matters on the pitch, Newcastle were condemned to defeat by substitute Fabio Borini's brilliant long-range effort.
(GIF via @FeintZebra)