The decision by West Ham’s Head of Football Media Relations, Ben Campbell to ban website Knees Up Mother Brown from publishing post-match comments by managers is stupid, vindictive, unnecessary and counter-productive.
Furthermore, it is an attack on all those who believe football fans have a right to independent thought away from the narrow PR interests of a Premier League football club.
A year ago, Campbell banned editor Graeme Howlett from post-match press conferences at the club, allegedly for "unnecessarily negative" content published on his website – although the decision remains unexplained.
Campbell this week continued the vendetta by insisting KUMB, the most popular independent Hammers’ site, must not be given audio recordings of pressers and threatened to ban anybody who does.
The content which Campbell refuses to allow to be shared is in open conference and would be taped by all journalists present as a basis for writing quotes around match reports and so forth. None of it is in press parlance ‘off the record’.
Any reputational harm that might come from such utterances would be available to all the national media. Certainly, it would be negligible compared to the egregious column Vice Chair Karren Brady writes in The Sun that has led to another club refusing to complete a transfer deal with West Ham.
Instead of engaging with supporters but instead attempting to control the message in this manner by censoring comment the club are pushing themselves even further away from the fans that provide their lifeblood.
The decision to deny fair comment mirrors the stance of the club in refusing to conduct dialogue with independent supporters’ associations like WHUISA.
We can only ask, what are they so scared of?