Speaking exclusively with Football FanCast, former Newcastle United midfielder Rob Lee slammed the club’s “laughable” decision to bar journalists from quizzing Steve Bruce.
The St. James’ Park outfit cut short Bruce’s pre-game press conference ahead of their 2-1 midweek defeat to Leeds United, which saw the Toon endure a sixth loss on the bounce as part of an 11-game winless run across all competitions that came to an end with a 2-0 win at Everton on Saturday.
Reporters were informed there would be no separate section for the written media as normal, with broadcast rights holders – Sky Sports, Premier League Productions, BBC Sport and BBC Look North – the only outlets allowed to ask questions.
The Daily Mail’s football correspondent Craig Hope noted on Twitter that the decision was a shared move by the Newcastle hierarchy and manager, Bruce, who has been faced with increasing calls from supporters to be fired as the Toon creep closer to the relegation zone.
Newcastle have previously barred journalists from asking questions of the club’s manager, after Alan Pardew banned local reporters from quizzing him following a 2-1 defeat at rivals Sunderland in October 2013.
Lee, who played 331 games for the Magpies, believes the issue stems from the top in owner Mike Ashley, and does not expect anything to change until the club is under new ownership.
Asked about the development involving the journalists, Lee told FFC:
“Well, nothing surprises me at Newcastle. It’s farcical now, it’s laughable, and I think even their own fans are laughing at the club.
“It’s happened before. Mike Ashley’s the instigator. People blame Steve Bruce and people want Steve Bruce out, but the bottom line is until Newcastle, until we get a better owner, nothing is going to change.
“I don’t care who they bring in. I don’t care if they bring in the best manager in the world. He is still going to have to work under Mike Ashley. And that’s the problem.”
Newcastle banned journalists of quizzing Pardew in 2013 during an ongoing standoff with local media, after blocking the Journal, Evening Chronicle and Sunday Sun in response to their coverage of protests by supporters against Ashley that saw around 500 fans attend.
The Magpies were said to have been furious with the papers offering publicity to the fan-led movement, and stepped in to prevent questions being directed at Pardew after the former United head coach attended his post-match media duties, which the journalists were not banned from, at the Stadium of Light.
Bruce is now the focus of supporters’ angst following a dire run of form that saw the Magpies eliminated from the Carabao and FA Cups in the space of 18 days, while a ‘Bruce out’ banner was recently unveiled outside St. James’ Park.
AND in other news, Newcastle could part with a £30k-p/w dynamo before the end of the month…