Amusing news from St Mary’s, where there were signs that League 1 favourites Southampton – free of the shackles of a hefty points deficit – may be getting too big for their boots.
Saints have decided, in their infinite wisdom, to impose a severe restriction on unofficial photographers, which on Saturday included the Plymouth Herald. Not to be forced into shelling out for official pictures, editor Bill Martin was inspired by those chalk artists’ impressions of courtroom scenes to commission cartoonist Chris Robinson – who subsequently sat at home watching the match on TV and captured the moment when Luke Summerfield gave the home side their comeuppance.
Incredibly, the ban appears to extend to the visiting sides’ official photographers – but Plymouth quite rightly thumbed their nose at their south coast opponents by deciding to publish their own pictures of Pilgrims players, the club’s communications manager Rick Cowdery reasoning: “Our motivation was to make sure we did the best for our club and our fans and supporters. Football is a fans’ game.”
All joking aside, there is of course a serious issue at stake here. How clubs can think they should have the right to control what images people can and can’t see is quite beyond me. And it’s not just other clubs and the mainstream media who are affected: glenglenglen of excellent Doncaster site Viva Rovers found out first-hand how the innocent use of photos taken inside stadia and posted on a blog can land you in hot water. This draconian determination to regulate images is as absurd and insidious as the concept of an organisation “owning” fixture lists and player data.
As Cowdery says, we own football, not Them.
Presented with the opportunity to explain and justify their decision, Southampton apparently refused to return the BBC’s calls. Talk about a PR own goal…