Old Trafford media bans were press regulation, Ferguson-style
Manchester United boss shares media frustrations with Hacked Off campaigners
HE MAY not be a member of Hacked Off, but Alex Ferguson has revealed the frustrations he felt when dealing with an uncontrollable media during his time as manager of Manchester United.
Fergie was often regarded as thin-skinned because of his habit of banning journalists from Old Trafford if he did not like what they had written, but in an interview following the release of his latest autobiography, the irascible Scot explained that his actions were often prompted by a feeling of helplessness.
Quizzed by Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow, Ferguson claimed that there was nothing else he could do about inaccurate reporting because the Press Complaints Commission and other industry regulators were so weak.
"When you think about it, you've no recourse with the press, they can write lies," he said. "A lot of the time they've written things that are wrong, and lies. What do you do? Report them to your commission? It doesn't work that way."
His frustrations mirror those of celebrities, victims of press intrusion and campaigners calling for tighter regulations on the media in the wake of the Leveson Inquiry.
"There are certain parts of the media who don't report things accurately," added Ferguson. He insisted that he used his power to banish reporters from his kingdom sparingly. "That didn't happen all the time and I didn't hold grudges," he added. "Eventually they were all allowed to come back in."
One notorious case involved a seven-year feud with the BBC over a documentary that made allegations about his son, Jason, who worked as a football agent.
"It was a poor, poor documentary full of paper bags and all that. It was horrible," said Fergie. "You have to have some sense of principle. I didn't enjoy it, it wasn't accurate and it wasn't honest."
Asked why it took seven years for him to speak to the BBC again, Ferguson's explanation was simple: "They never tried to apologise."