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Humberside Row Escalates.

By: Bill Osborne
Date: 28/02/2005

THE row between Grimsby Town Football Club and BBC Radio Humberside has been referred to the Football League. Charles Runcie, head of BBC sport in the English regions, is handling the case for the radio station and the Football League's commercial director, Richard Masters acting for the league.

The club told the Grimsby Telegraph; "We made various points to BBC Radio Humberside about its commentary which was both sarcastic and damaging. Negotiations broke down between the station and the Blundell Park side's board over a disagreement about coverage.

Despite a contract in which the radio station pays the club what is believed to be a substantial amount of money for access to manager Russell Slade and his players, the BBC reporters have been barred from talking to anyone at the club."

John Fenty, the Mariners' chairman, said: "It is predominantly due to the coverage with regard to the Keep The Mariners Afloat campaign. We wrote to BBC Radio Humberside to acknowledge to them that we felt they were in breach of the contract in that we believed they have belittled and damaged the campaign.

"We made various points to BBC Radio Humberside about its commentary which we felt was both sarcastic and damaging.

"We have asked them for an apology and an understanding of how we would go forward.

"Sadly for the fans of the football club, we have reached an impasse. Effectively, BBC Radio Humberside, while conceding some minor points in a letter, is not prepared to offer an apology and say the nature of coverage was due to the reporter's passion.

"The club apologises to the fans and hopes they understand. The football club is fully in support of the freedom of speech and the freedom of the Press, subject to responsible reporting. And to this extent we feel that Radio Humberside has let itself down."

A BBC spokeswoman said: "BBC Radio Humberside is passionate about supporting all our local clubs through good times and bad. It sometimes means challenging and difficult questions have to be asked. Our aim is - and always has been - to provide an in depth coverage for our listeners and a forum where the voice of the club, its fans and our experts can be heard.

"The ban on interview access to players and the manager at the club means the fans are not able to hear in our programmes from the people at the heart of their club."

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