NEWCASTLE: The Newcastle Chronicle, Journal and the Sunday Sun have been banned from Newcastle United press facilities at St James’s Park.

The ban means journalists cannot have access to all the facilities, including the stadium press box, training ground, and interviews with players and manager.

At the Sunderland v Newcastle derby last weekend, reporters from the local newspapers were prevented from asking questions of Alan Pardew, the Newcastle manager, in the after-match press conference. The spat appears to relate to the newspapers’ coverage of a recent march against club owner Mike Ashley.

The National Union of Journalists said: “This attack on media freedom and the ability of journalists to carry out their work on behalf of their readers and the local community is shameful and must be condemned.

“The ban will force journalists to report from the stands where they will not have laptop access, they could be subject to constant interruptions by surrounding fans and their view of the play will be restricted. However our members will not be beaten by this and they are determined to do their professional best.”

Chris Morley, NUJ Northern and Midlands organiser, said: “Our members have been caught in a dispute between Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley and their newspaper and do not deserve to be treated in the outrageous way they have.

“They were carrying out their professional duties in what was an important news story and event for the whole of the North East. Yet they were left humiliated by the football club officials who refused point blank to deal with their legitimate questions on behalf of their readers. Reporters from national titles were allowed to ask questions.

“This is a denial of freedom of the media and expression and an attempt by powerful people at the club to take retribution for coverage they did not like. This is totally undemocratic, arrogant and an abuse of position – but worst of all it is an attack on their own supporters in the North East who look to their local paper to report on their favourite football club.”