Rangers ban reporters in ‘bigotry bias’ row

Rangers has become 'very hostile and poisonous' said one of the banned reporters
Rangers has become 'very hostile and poisonous' said one of the banned reporters

Rangers Football Club has banned a Times columnist and a BBC reporter from their grounds amid allegations of biased reporting against the club.

The club has told Graham Spiers, a columnist and broadcaster, and the BBC’s Chris McLaughlin to stay away from its Ibrox home. It also banned the Daily Record earlier this year.

In response to the ban on Mr McLaughlin – which was put in place after he led a match report on the news of supporters being arrested – the BBC has boycotted Ibrox.

The broadcaster will continue to report on the club, but will not be sending journalists to matches or press conferences.

Mr Spiers, who was a Rangers “beat reporter” until 2012, told Press Gazette that the club has become “very hostile and poisonous” in this time.

The Times and Herald newspaper columnist said he has not been told why he has been banned.

Mr Spiers said he has written about “bigoted chanting” and “controversial stewardship” of the club in recent years and that this probably led to his ban.

Rangers imposed its ban on BBC reporter Mr McLaughlin following his report on Rangers’ 6-2 Scottish Challenge Cup victory over Hibernian. Rangers was unhappy when it led on the news that “three arrests were made after sectarian singing”.

A Rangers spokesman told the Sunday Mail that the decision to ban Mr McLaughlin “wasn’t taken lightly”.

They said: “The BBC don’t seem to be ­applying proper checks and rules within their sports department.”

The spokesman added: “At the game you had police praising both sets of fans but he led on the fact Rangers could be in trouble because two people were arrested for ­alleged sectarian chants.”

A BBC spokesman told Press Gazette: “We believe [the ban] was unjustifiable and we stand by the integrity and the quality of our journalism.

“We will continue to report on Rangers both on and off the pitch and will feature match action where appropriate but, until this issue is resolved, we will not be sending journalists to Ibrox or attending Rangers press conferences.”

A number of other football clubs have recently banned journalists, including Swindon Town, Blackpool and Newcastle United.