LONDON: The Daily Telegraph has responded sharply to a ban imposed by Newcastle United over its reports about tensions within the dressing room in the club’s fight against relegation.

The newspaper’s north-east football reporter Luke Edwards disclosed on Tuesday that the club’s struggle for survival had been undermined by acrimony between different sets of players at the club.

He reported that one group believed that another, mainly French, group of players have not been committed enough to Newcastle in recent weeks, spending too much time complaining about manager Alan Pardew and pursuing personal agendas.

They also believed, said Edwards, that one player had allowed his fitness levels to decline dramatically and that several players did not understand the importance of keeping Newcastle in the Premier League.

The Telegraph described the article has been “written on the basis of verbal and written accounts of the split provided by several sources, including individuals employed by the club.”

Newcastle, it added, “have reacted by sending the Telegraph a solicitor’s letter demanding the story be withdrawn from our website and a public apology be issued.”

Until then both Luke Edwards and any representative of the Daily Telegraph/Sunday Telegraph would be banned from attending St James’ Park and from attending any Newcastle pre-match press conferences and all Newcastle United player interviews.

The newspaper told its readers: “We regret the club’s decision to ban the Telegraph from attending matches and press conferences, but will not allow it to prevent us providing the most incisive, trustworthy Newcastle coverage, rather than pandering to what the club want you to read.”

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