Alan Pardew had his pre-Manchester City press conference today with Lee Ryder and Mark Douglas conspicuous in their absence. This is not a surprise as the situation between the Newcastle United offices and the local press never looked like a situation that would blow over quickly. We did see a couple of things today so far as reaction to the ban.
How will the Chronicle cover the club during this ban?
Lee Ryder did publish a post-presser piece on The Evening Chronicle's website, so we have an early look at their "work around" while banned from access to the club. Unfortunately, it's not a very reader friendly format, at least at this point. I can appreciate the "we've got to get something up quickly to show that this clownery will not keep us down" point of view, and that there is a certain lag behind other journos who are allowed into the press conferences, but this appears to be a page of notes taken from an audio recording of the presser... with no added commentary. Surely there has got to be a middle ground. While we're here, though, might as well take a look at a couple of the comments Ryder was able to pass along:
"We have two games I feel we can win.
"Man City have been a problem team for us.
"We haven't done very well against them.
"We have to look at how we can improve on them tomorrow."
--The Evening Chronicle (see link above for full text)
Without any kind of context, it's hard to speculate exactly what Alan Pardew means when he says "We have two games I feel we can win"... but speculate I will do. Given the well-publicized trouble Pardew has had against Manchester City during his tenure at NUFC, we can safely rule this one out. As he acknowledges, "Man City have been a problem team for us", which is somehow, in light of the facts, somewhat of an understatement. Here is the point where I point out yet again that a Pardew-led Newcastle side have never finished closer than two goals behind ManC. In fact it has been a Law of Diminishing Returns kind of thing as we have progressed from 0-2 to 1-3 to 0-4 as the fixtures tick by. We must logically deduce that he means that we can win Chelsea at home AND Spurs away. I guess. Recent form suggests the contrary, but that's why you play the games, right?
Reactions to the press ban continue
Of course the local journalists have banded together in the face of the "bullying" by Mike Ashley, and of course the national Union is getting involved as well. There was a reaction piece on The Press Gazette's website today reacting to the situation. (The Press Gazette is a newspaper that covers... well, newspapers.) There's not much earth shattering in this piece particularly - lots of quotes of the "We must be allowed to do our jobs" and "We're just saying what everyone else is" variety... but there is this little gem from MP representing Newcastle Central Chi Onwurah:
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p>Just spoke to <a href="https://twitter.com/ITVtynetees">@ITVtynetees</a> about <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23nufc&src=hash">#nufc</a> banning <a href="https://twitter.com/EveningChron">@eveningchron</a> - petty, childish, an insult to fans & democratic values. Pyongyang upon Tyne</p>— chi onwurah (@ChiOnwurah) <a href="https://twitter.com/ChiOnwurah/statuses/395187513578364928">October 29, 2013</a></blockquote>
<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
This whole situation was never going to reflect well on the club in the first place and unfavorable parallels were going to be drawn.... but a Pyongyan Upon Tyne blast this early in the process is pretty strong. This is the second time in recent memory that a Mike Ashley action has drawn reaction from Newcastle MPs - you may recall that his renaming of St. James' Park drew similar reaction as well.
Perhaps the other point of note today regarding #PressGate2013 is that Alan Pardew was quoted as saying:
'We have drafted them a letter which we think is correct, and that is it, really. They have to respond to that."
This in spite of the fact that the end of the letter from the club stipulated:
We do not require a reply to this letter, our position on this issue is not up for negotiation.
So... there's that. It will be interesting to see how this all shakes out... but the process is sure to be a slow one and, as always, on Mike Ashley's terms.