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Men’s football NUJ snaps at Premier League for limiting number of photographers allowed at matches

THE National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has protested against a Premier League ruling that a maximum of two independent photographers will be allowed to cover matches when the League restarts behind closed doors.

Protests have also been made by the British Press Photographers Association (BPPA) and the Sports Journalists’ Association (SJA), which have called on the Premier League to “rethink” its plans for restarting games.

The plans have been laid down in the Premier League’s Project Restart programme, which hopes to have games back by the end of June.

The three organisations say they have not been consulted by the League in drawing up the plans.

Usually a minimum of 23 photographers cover a Premier League game. The NUJ says the two slots for photographers are most likely to go to large agencies or wires, resulting in a small selection of images becoming available to the public.

“In a closed stadium with no fans present, this seems arbitrarily low and utterly insufficient to provide varied and full coverage of matches,” said the union.

“It is easily possible to accommodate many more photographers in safety.”

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “I have written to Richard Masters, the Premier League’s chief executive, asking him to discuss this important matter with us.

“A range of sporting bodies are now considering putting games and events back on and it is in their interest, as well as our photographer members, to ensure the broadest possible coverage for fans, even more so if the events are behind closed doors.

“This will also have an impact on sports reporters and film crews — some of the first journalists to lose work because of Covid-19.

“We need to get sports and sports journalism back in business, operating with the necessary health and safety measures.”

Chair of the NUJ Photographers’ Council Natasha Hirst said: “Photographers’ livelihoods are at risk if the Premier League does not find solutions to increase coverage of the games.

“Sports photographers are highly skilled professionals who are relied upon to produce varied and vibrant images that sports fans are accustomed to.”

She said she was “deeply concerned” at the league’s lack of consultation.

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