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BBC boycotts Rangers matches after club bans journalists over negative stories
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- BBC to boycott Rangers matches and press conferences after reporter ban
- Chris McLaughlin was informed by Ibrox club to stay away
- Newspaper columnist Graham Spiers has also been barred by Rangers
- Both led match reports of Gers' 6-2 win at Hibernian on news that three Rangers fans had been arrested for sectarian chanting
By Adam Shergold for MailOnline
Published: 14:18 GMT, 5 August 2015 | Updated: 14:45 GMT, 5 August 2015
The BBC has announced a boycott of Rangers matches and press conferences after one of its reporters was told to stay away from Ibrox.
In the latest example of a football club imposing petty bans on the media, the Scottish Championship outfit banned Chris McLaughlin along with Times and Herald columnist Graham Spiers last week.
They have apparently been barred for leading their match reports of Rangers' 6-2 Challenge Cup win over Hibernian with mentions of arrests for sectarian singing.
Scottish club Rangers have barred two journalists from attending matches at Ibrox and press conferences
The two reporters led their reports of Rangers' 6-2 Challenge Cup win over Hibernian last week (pictured) on the news that three Rangers supporters had been arrested for sectarian singing
In response, the BBC said it would continue to report on Rangers but would not be sending reporters to their matches or press conferences.
Football columnist Spiers said he had not been informed of the reason for his ban but believes it is because he has written on the club's off-field troubles in recent years.
Three Rangers fans were arrested for sectarian singing during the win at Easter Road in Edinburgh on July 25.
Spiers told Press Gazette: 'I've been very critical of Rangers over the years - I think totally justifiably. There have been Rangers themes that have had to be addressed.
'They have never told me why [the ban has been imposed], they've never explained to me why.
'I had one conversation with one Rangers director, who I phoned up when I heard about this ban, and he didn't know what I was talking about.
'Then he got back to me two hours later and he gave me a slightly rambling statement, or perspective, on why I had been banned. But he said for me: 'As far as I know it's for nothing recent.''
Spiers, who was a Rangers reporter until three years ago, informed the club the ban wouldn't impact on his role as a columnist as he rarely attended matches any more.
The ban means the BBC will no longer send reporters to press conferences with manager Mark Warburton
Rangers beat Peterhead 3-0 on Sunday to make progress in the Scottish League Cup
Rangers imposed their ban on McLaughlin after an article appeared on the BBC Sport website headlined: 'Arrests made at Hibernian v Rangers Challenge Cup match.'
The article began by saying the behaviour of a small section of the club's fans at the match could land them in trouble with the Scottish Professional Football League.
McLaughlin went on to quote a police statement that said of the six arrests made at the match, three had been for sectarian singing.
Rangers' traditional support is largely drawn from the Protestant Unionist community while Hibernian was founded by members of Edinburgh's Irish Catholic community.
A BBC spokesman told the Press Gazette: 'We believe [the ban] was unjustifiable and we stand by the integrity and the quality of our journalism.
'We will continue to report on Rangers both on and off the pitch and will feature match action where appropriate but, until this issue is resolved, we will not be sending journalists to Ibrox or attending Rangers press conferences.'
Journalists from the Daily Record were banned from Rangers matches and press conferences back in February.
3 fans from #Rangers end arrested for sectarian singing during the win over Hibs. Also makes delegate's report as does use of flare.— Chris McLaughlin (@BBCchrismclaug) July 25, 2015
Apols if people can't grasp this. I’ve been to a few games at Ibrox. But I’ve not been a beat-reporter around Rangers since 2012. #banned— Graham Spiers (@GrahamSpiers) July 31, 2015
Rangers join the list of British football clubs who have barred journalists and publications for what they perceive as biased or disproportionate reporting.
Newcastle United banned local newspapers The Journal, The Sunday Sun and the Newcastle Evening Chronicle for 14 months in October 2013 after they gave extensive coverage to a fan protest against owner Mike Ashley.
This was finally lifted in December last year but the club's ban on Daily Telegraph journalists is ongoing.
And the club only granted access to Sky Sports and the Daily Mirror for Steve McClaren's first press conference as manager in June.
In July, League One outfit Swindon Town banned media outlets from attending its press conferences, instead deciding to put out interviews conducted by its own press officer via its website and a social media app.
Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley banned local newspapers after they covered a protest against him
Swindon fans can only find out the views of manager Mark Cooper through official channels after a media ban
Port Vale, Nottingham Forest, Rotherham United and Crawley Town have all imposed restrictions on local newspaper journalists at various points in the past few years.
The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has written to the Football Association chairman Greg Dyke demanding football clubs put an end to the 'worrying trend' of banning media outlets.
NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet wrote in the letter: 'I am writing to you because of our concern over a worrying trend among football clubs to ban reporters and instead have their own hand-picked writers to peddle propaganda from the proprietor’s point of view.
'Censorship by football club owners is unacceptable; they should be held to account for the decisions they make and the way they run the club.
'It is the fans who will be the losers. They can buy the match-day programmes to hear what their team’s manager and owner have to say, but they should also be able to hear what independent commentators have to say about their local team.'