The Daily Express published a bold exclusive discussing the job status of Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew. It will now pay for it by being banned from access to the club for the immediate future.
In the article that published on Sunday, John Richardson reported that Pardew would be sacked if he could not come through with a victory against Aston Villa:
It’s believed that owner Mike Ashley is ready to pull the plug on Pardew, who was appointed in December 2010, if Newcastle fail to beat Aston Villa at home next Sunday.
It will mean businessman Ashley having to bite the financial bullet after handing Pardew an eight-year contract just 18 months ago.
Not only did Newcastle deny this allegation, but they also came back with a direct response on the official website:
We consider it extremely poor practice for a newspaper to print such an article without first seeking comment or clarification from the Club. The article was completely untrue and we can only assume published for commercial reasons or as an attempt to unsettle and disrupt.
Newcastle United will not accept false, misleading, mischievous or inflammatory reporting such as this and will take appropriate action as and when necessary. To this end, Newcastle United can confirm that the Sunday Express is banned with immediate effect.
Newcastle are coming off a string of embarrassing defeats since the start of February. In the last three matches, the club has lost to Sunderland, Chelsea and Tottenham by a combined score of 10-0. They have not scored an EPL goal in one month, and they only have a single win in eight matches in 2014.
These struggles have dropped the club to ninth place in the English Premier League table, far out of contention for a spot in a European tournament for next season.
Of course, not all of these problems lie on Pardew. As Simon Bird of Mirror Football notes, the sale of Yohan Cabaye was incredibly damaging. The author points out the struggles are the fault of owner Mike Ashley:
[Pardew] needs to have a showdown with Ashley and challenge him to reinvigorate his tenure with at least four new signings including two top strikers.
Sadly the most powerful argument for Pardew keeping his job is that Mike Ashley doesn't care very much about Newcastle United.
No matter who is to blame for the struggles, it is clear the fans want a turnaround quickly. The good news is the schedule opens up for a potential strong run of matches.
The club plays Aston Villa on Sunday in a match that is apparently not going to decide Pardew's job. After that, there are three more contests in March against squads sitting on the bottom half of the table. If they perform well, everyone can forget about these problems.
Still, the big story remains the banning of a British newspaper for a disagreement in a report. It will be interesting if this sets a precedent toward coverage of the club and others going forward.
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