Web gossip hits fans' access to Colney

The advent of 'citizen journalists' has led to Norwich City imposing limits on public access to their training sessions.

The advent of 'citizen journalists' has led to Norwich City imposing limits on public access to their training sessions.

Until now the club has always left the gates of their Colney Training Centre open for any fans wishing to watch their favourites preparing for action.

But from tomorrow, the general public will only be allowed in on Monday and Tuesdays when there is no midweek fixture, and not at all when there is.

The explanation is that the move is a reluctant response to the "increase in new media technology" and the advent of so-called 'citizen journalists' - whereby fans will post snippets of news on websites and compete with each other for posting the most up-to-date gossip on message boards, often supported by pictures or video footage recorded on a mobile phone.

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City boss Peter Grant admitted yesterday that there had been increasing concern following a number of incidents in which sensitive information about team selection or the fitness of players has found its way into the public domain via this route.

"We still very much want Colney to be a friendly and open place where fans can visit and watch training sessions," said Grant.

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"Unfortunately there are some days when information from the training ground is more sensitive - like the day or two before a game when we're starting to look at formations, or when a player who is 50-50 due to injury may or may not be involved. However remote the possibility may seem, I don't want to hand out any advantage whatsoever to our opposition.

"Last season there were a couple of occasions when information unfortunately got out on to websites that I wasn't happy with from training sessions when I'm trying to get ready for an important game.

"The media look at the websites too and there's just that risk of something getting out which compromises what we are trying to do before a game.

"This happened yet again before the Preston game, when our exact line-up and personnel leaked out on the day before the match.

"I've had managers say to me post-match 'we knew you were doing this or that' and I can't have that.

"Last season when Earnie (Robert Earnshaw) was injured on the training pitch before a game it was on a website before I had got back to my desk, which isn't acceptable."

City's head of media Joe Ferrari added: "We have always tried to maintain open access for the public to Colney in the past but the security of certain selection and fitness issues is of paramount importance to the club in the build-up to matches.

"Therefore we have taken this step reluctantly. It brings our policy more into line with that of most other professional clubs in the country, where access to training sessions is either heavily restricted or, in some cases, not allowed at all.

"It is hoped that in addition to those sessions still open to the public under the new arrangements, that one or two additional open training sessions will be held during school holidays in the future."

Ferrari confirmed that supporters on pre-arranged tours, such as with the Study Support Centre, are not affected.

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