English soccer governing bodies reach agreement with sports press over coverage of matches

August 15, 2011

A dispute between the media and England’s Premier League and Football League ended just in time for the beginning of the new Premier League season.

British media groups and international news agencies including The Associated Press reached an agreement with English soccer leagues on Saturday over game coverage, meaning that the opening weekend of top-tier matches would receive newspaper coverage.

The leagues had been in negotiations with newspapers and news agencies for several months.

The coalition said the leagues were seeking to impose restrictions on editorial freedom, which the news organisations had rejected at the start of discussions, before they grant journalists access to matches. There has been speculation that journalists’ usage of Twitter during matches was a sticking point in the dispute.

The Premier League and the Football League had said it was trying to maintain an “appropriate level of protection for their intellectual property.”

However, a statement issued by the News Media Coalition read: “We are delighted to have reached agreement with the leagues and look forward to providing fans with the best possible journalistic coverage of the game.”

The deal changes terms of coverage and accreditation that had existed since 2004 between the news organisations including The Associated Press and the Premier League and Football League.

The News Media Coalition statement said the previous agreement placed “unreasonably restrictive constraints on how news organisations could use and distribute their copyright football content.”

It said the new deal should “make a significant improvement” to coverage of the sport.