SWINDON Town yesterday defended their proposed new public relations strategy after finding themselves caught up in a media storm.

Reports that there would be no pre-match access to the club’s management or players emerged at the end of last week, with the club officially confirming the new arrangements yesterday afternoon.

The club plan to allow limited media access only, post-match interviews with the manager and possibly a player as per Football League regulations, but will dispense with pre-match press calls and other media events in favour of providing their own material via the official website and the app Fanzai, which has drawn criticism from some who claim it doesn’t work.

The news sparked interest in the national media, while some condemned the club’s stance and insisted it would alienate existing and potential supporters.

The club subsequently explained their position in the statement, claiming that the 16-mile trip to their new training ground in Calne was one of the contributing factors behind their decision.

“The club are very disappointed and surprised in the way in which our new media arrangement has been portrayed locally and presented to the national media,” said the statement.

“So we are very clear: the football club are looking to start something different this season.

“Bearing in mind the change in training facility (which is a considerable distance from Swindon), our in-house journalist, Tom Otrebski, will be conducting interviews with players, management and staff during the week as well as producing a lot of behind-the-scenes material that will engage the fans and give them more of an insight into how the team and the club is run.

“This will be distributed on all the club’s official media channels and also on a new and exciting media platform called Fanzai which the club have decided to trial. This was first trialled on Saturday during Town’s pre-season friendly with Everton.

“Fanzai’s unique approach to social media is something the club decided to align themselves with and launch our media output through.

“For the avoidance of doubt, post-match access and the reporting on matches by the media will remain exactly the same as last season.

“There is not a blanket media ‘ban’ as is being reported. We are trying something fresh which we feel will give supporters a new insight into their football club.”

The Swindon Advertiser has been banned from club media events since January and, despite repeated requests, has received no reason for that action from Swindon Town. The latest PR strategy also affects other members of the media.

Swindon Advertiser editor Gary Lawrence was invited to give his views on the ban by TalkSport and has expressed his disappointment for Town’s supporters.

“I think it is a real shame for Town fans that they won’t have questions put on their behalf to the manager and players,” he said. “Journalists represent the fans in that they ask the difficult questions the club may not want to answer.

“But those answers, even if the manager or players don’t really want to give them, strengthen the relationship between the club and the fans.”

The new approach to the handling of media by Swindon has been greeted by mixed response from fans.

On the Adver’s website Old-Stager said: “Lee Power owns the football club and it is his choice that matters in this case.”

Meanwhile, bradley red 1 wrote “Massive, massive mistake by Power! This will truly come back to bite you very hard. He really knows how to keep the supporters on side.”