Man Utd defends Ferguson media contact decision

Manchester United Football Club has defended beleaguered team

manager Alex Ferguson in his decision to abolish weekly press briefings

and cease regular contact with the media.

Ferguson last week announced he would stop the Friday press conference

at the troubled soccer giant's Carrington training ground and would

restrict his media appearances to stage-managed interviews on the

part-United-owned broadcaster MUTV.

'The manager won't speak to the press because he wants to allow time to

concentrate on players, the team and football issues at this difficult

time,' said Patrick Harveson, comms director at Old Trafford.

Harveson, who joined the club last year (PRWeek, 20 October 2000) with a

remit to boost its PR operation after a spell of bad publicity, denied

widespread rumours of a rift between himself and Ferguson.

It has been suggested that Harveson advised Ferguson against axing

regular media contact, but he insisted this week he was '100 per cent

behind Alex on this. He will still communicate to the fans on MUTV, and

that's the important thing'.

- Leader, p12.

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