The BBC Reporter who’s Ibrox ban has resulted in a more than two-year boycott of the club from the National Broadcaster has switched roles. The significance of Chris McLaughlin moving job is that he is “mostly saying goodbye to pitch-side duties”. McLaughlin will still remain at the BBC.
The BBC boycott concerns reporting on matches pitchside at Ibrox and also press conferences for Reporters.
With the man who was at the certain of the storm taking on a new role, does that mean the door is now open for the two parties to finally make up?
Excited to be taking up the role of Sports News Correspondent at BBC Scotland from today. Mostly saying goodbye to pitch-side duties but most certainly not to football. Onwards and upwards.
— Chris McLaughlin (@BBCchrismclaug) October 8, 2018
Ibrox ban for “repeated difficulties”
But considering this involves the National Broadcaster means it must be resolved. Rangers fans contribute millions of pounds to the BBC every year. And issues between the two entities have been going on for a while.
In 2011, the BBC were forced to apologise after cutting an interview with then manager Ally McCoist to look like he didn’t take sectarianism or the issue of religious violence at football matches seriously. This relationship between club and broadcaster really broke down here. It made both the club and fans very suspicious of the BBC.
In 2015, Rangers then banned Chris McLaughlin for repeated muckraking and attacking the club in his news reports. The final straw was when Rangers said McLaughlin unfairly focused on arrests following a 6-2 win against Hibs.
The BBC then defended their reporter and went on to boycott reporting the club from games or press conferences in response. This response is unprecedented. The boycott has been in place since January 2016.
Club not without criticism
Rangers Football Club are not impervious to criticism. They, like any other institution footballing or otherwise, must be held to account and scrutinised. But how much is too much? And what if coverage is lopsided?
McLaughlin’s coverage did nothing to help issues surrounding football violence, sectarianism or anything else that blights the game. It plays up to stereotyping and if anything just stokes these issues further. They’re delicate issues. Certain coverage felt very orchestrated, agenda driven and deliberate. There was little balance and fans weren’t truly being represented.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find any Rangers fan who’s on the BBC’s side.
Whilst Rangers tried to take a step forward on and off the field, reporters like Chris McLaughlin were trying to drag the club and fans back.
At least that’s how Rangers interpreted it. And can you blame them?
The BBC must understand this. They are our National Broadcaster. They have a responsibility to cover Rangers, and not just in a sporting sense. The football club is a Scottish and British institution and what they do and say affects hundreds of thousands if not millions of people.
Not that they should mollycoddle or protect the club from investigation. Rangers must be scrutinsed and criticised as much is necessary.
But as License Payers we just expect it to be fair.
So with McLaughlin out of the pitch side picture, it opens a door for both sides to make up.
If not for anything else, for the supporters. Because it is them all of this really affects.