Coronavirus impacted how the media operate within football

By Fraser McLuggage

Dale Eaton stands in front of no fans at the EUFA Women’s Champions League

Coronavirus has impacted how the media operate within football. UWS spoke to two authorities in both tabloid and club media, as well as a referee who discusses the changes being implemented within the game.

Coronavirus has impacted the world in many ways and football is no different. The significant impact the global pandemic has had on the game for fans, is also having a knock on effect for the media and the way things can be covered.

Clubs in Scotland are having to find solutions to difficult problems, which they are facing. Club media is mostly an “access all areas” format and allows fans an insight to the football teams they love and support. This however is changing slightly, and even the club media team members must keep their distances.

Ex Daily Record correspondent, Euan McLean spoke to UWS about the challenges journalists were faced with at the start of lockdown. With manager and player interviews being done via Skype or other forms of online communication.
McLean described how the way journalists operate in a press conference was no longer as easy and how the media officer in charge of the interview had more power to end a presser whenever they wanted with a “master button.”

“Reading the room on how a conversation is going, you can get so much better out of an interview subject when you can sense how things are going. It is easier when you are in a personal environment, it is easier to get a flow going. Although we work for rival news papers, we hunt in packs. If you think oh this guy has something here, then it’s your job to follow up and get more quotes and get them to open up. That is much easier to do when you are all sat in a room together harder to do on Zoom calls.”

He went on to say how some football clubs prefer things this way as it gives them more control over the interview. “It is easier for them to close it up, they say “right last question” and then that is you, whereas in a face to face environment, we will all chip in and say but what about this or one more question.”

Glasgow City media team member, Dale Eaton, has said that things are very different and confusing since the restart after lockdown. “We’re only allowed to have two people in a room. After the game you need to go down to the pitch side but nobody was really sure on what way to go. I had to go out the stadium and walk round to come in again.”

Amateur referee, Chris Irving, spoke to UWS about how things have changed for refs at a lower league. “We have to run up in kit, we used to turn up an hour before kick off, now we are being encouraged to turn up 15/20 minutes max before kick off and not to spend too much time hanging about. Referee fees are being encouraged to be transferred instead of handling cash.”

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