The Sun has been banned from Sunderland after the club reacted furiously to the newspaper giving away Gus Poyet's team for the Liverpool game.
Now, I have to admit that media bans from clubs is not something that I personally advocate or enjoy seeing, but I can at least understand why the club are unhappy in this instance. It seems clear that a trust has been breached.
It all stems from a tweet from journalist David Coverdale, who the morning of the Liverpool game said (after it had already been printed in the paper):
Hearing Poyet will play an unusual team at Liverpool tonight. Five at back, Jozy and Connor together upfront, Johnson and Ki dropped.
That tweet has since been deleted as, in Coverdale's own words, "a gesture of good will after the club complained", whilst he insists that all he is guilty of is an "informed prediction" which he just happened to get right. That's an educated guess, to you and me.
That's obviously a very difficult story to believe given the precision of his prediction. He got the shape right, the front two right, and the two big name absences right, when none had any kind of precedent. One you could put down to a lucky guess, two possibly an 'informed prediction', but all three? When no one else was able to make a similar prediction? Come on.
And somehow we have managed to get from "hearing" to "predicting", which is similarly fishier than a seafood paella. Inconsistency so seldom aligns with honesty. His story is fooling no one, is it.
It seems apparent that Coverdale did indeed hear something and then broke that trust by reporting it. That, at least, seems to have been the position taken by the club, and since they are the ones who dish out the press passes, their perception is the important one.
The question really is whether or not the ban is justified?
It's tough to really answer without knowing whether or not there is a past history, although it's worth noting that it was The Sun who did the recent interview with Paolo Di Canio about which the club were furious and threatened legal action.
From Coverdale's point of view, he was simply doing his job. He was discovering the facts and reporting them; covering Sunderland. You can't fault his accuracy.
But I think that when you have a contact there is a certain line to tread. I don't know the conditions upon which he was granted the information, but it's pretty obvious that publishing privileged information about a manager's team and tactics well before a game is not going to go down especially well. You must know you are risking overstepping that line and falling foul of the consequences. In the regard, especially given his pretty obvious dishonesty about the nature of the information, it's tough to have any sympathy with him really.
Fair play to the club for responding with a bit of strength, but I'd probably prefer clubs didn't ban newspapers. I think it just creates more bad press in the long run than whatever the initial story could have alone. It seems a little counter-productive to me. I'd rather the leak was just found and dealt with internally. Banning a journalist from the club isn't going to stop someone picking up a phone.
Hopefully it all blows over quickly, it's just a slap on the wrist, and people start getting along again. Bigger things to worry about right now!