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Newspapers facing football ground lockouts

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© Rex Features

Sport journalists from national newspapers and news agencies are facing a lockout from Premier League and Football League grounds due to a dispute over media accreditation.

Talks between football bodies and a media coalition - called Football DataCo - broke down this week, with the two sides still in disagreement on the eve of the new Football League season.

According to The Guardian, newspapers are planning to get around their lockout from football grounds by covering matches from outside using broadcast media coverage on Sky and ESPN. The papers will also refuse to mention the names of football sponsors in protest at the dispute.

The Football League and Premier League are understood to have offered a temporary extension of the existing media accreditation agreement, which the media coalition believes is too restrictive on the way they can use news content produced at matches.

Media companies have been informed that they must sign the temporary agreement if they want to attend the opening weekend of 36 Football League matches, or face being locked out of grounds.

The big news agencies, including Reuters and the Press Association, are hoping that a last-minute deal can be agreed, but they have already warned their publisher clients that coverage could be disrupted.

"Reuters and Action Images are disappointed that talks with Football DataCo and the English football leagues have broken down," said a Reuters spokeswoman.

"Consequently, we are unable to guarantee our coverage, as the proposed terms and conditions compromise our ability to properly cover and to serve the interests of our clients."

A Press Association spokeswoman added: "We continue to monitor the situation and will keep customers informed about the coverage that they can expect."

The Newspaper Publishers Association - which represents Associated Newspapers, the Independent, Trinity Mirror, News International, the Financial Times, the Daily Telegraph and The Guardian - has also been informed about a potential lockout from grounds. However, it is understood that some clubs are prepared to defy the ban and let journalists in to cover matches.

This Sunday's Community Shield match between Manchester United and Manchester City will not be affected by the dispute. The new Premier League season kicks off next weekend, with Sky and ESPN recently announcing their planned coverage of the opening fixtures.

ESPN has also launched a new advertising campaign to promote its coverage of the new sporting season, highlighting the sixth-sense ability of fans to anticipate the action.

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