Fans Cry Foul Over Axed Local Sports Pundit

Sacking of non league football expert deemed massive own goal by supporters

Non league football fans throughout Tameside and the North West of England were shocked to hear about the axing of a popular sports pundit. Mike Pavasovic, who has covered the semi-professional game since the 1970s was axed from the Tameside Reporter, and lost his non league football programme on Tameside Radio.

For several years, devotees of non-league football throughout the Tameside area have turned to Pav’s Patch each Thursday in the Tameside Reporter and Glossop Chronicle newspapers and its predecessors. His return to the two titles in September 2012, along with accompanying programme on Friday teatime was seen as a shrewd move. The programme became a ‘must listen’ feature for devotees of The Mighty Stalybridge Celtic, Hyde FC, Droylsden, Curzon Ashton, Ashton United and Mossley.

However, it was claimed that a footballing guest on his show commented on the demise of local newspapers and a lack of investigative journalism. This seem to have been taken the wrong way by Tameside Radio’s and Tameside Reporter’s benefactors New Charter Housing Trust. Instead of publishing an apology or disclaimer after his guest’s appearance, Pav was relieved of his duties. They saw it as a breach of trust with media professionals and football supporters later pointing the finger at its ultimate paymasters.

His recent omission from the airwaves and print media has led to a #bringbackpav campaign on Twitter, which has spread to supporters of non league clubs outside the Tameside area. Locally, Stalybridge Celtic Football Club have stepped up the campaign by withdrawing all publicity from the Tameside Reporter, Glossop Chronicle and Tameside Radio. Press officer Keith Trudgeon stated on their website:

“Following high level discussions at the Football Club the decision has been taken to withdraw co-operation from the Tameside Reporter and Tameside Radio.

This decision was not taken lightly but it was felt that we had to make some sort of stand against a decision taken by New Charter (the owners) which without any explanation from them appears to be both unfair in the extreme and a grave error of judgement as to the value of Mike Pavasovic to the local non-league scene.”

The Conservative Party councillor for Hyde Werneth, John Bell responded to a previous posting on the InTameside website recently by saying:

“This is a disgraceful decision by the New Charter Media Group.  Pav is the most knowledgeable sports journalist in the area, and a nice guy too.  I am sure another newspaper will approach him and take on his talents.  An exceptional broadcaster and journalist. Bring back Pav soon!”

Author of the Six Tame Sides blog and photographer Mike Smith, who has hitherto supplied photos to the Acres Lane, Stalybridge based titles, has watermarked his images with ‘Bring Back Pav’. The move has also been met with derision by Hyde FC and Mossley managers Scott McNiven and Peter Band.

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East of the M60 Comment:

For me, Mike Pavasovic’s radio programme was required listening. His column in the Tameside Reporter and its predecessors was always a joy to read and probably introduced a great many to the Tameside non-league football scene. Without which, the borough would be devoid of comprehensive non-league football coverage, and the introduction of his radio programme was a godsend.

In the last year, Tameside Radio, Tameside Reporter and Glossop Chronicle was reorganised into the Quest Media Network, a move which has meant greater cross-promotion of radio and print media interests. A move which in writing would have provided some editorial distance from its ultimate paymasters adjacent to IKEA.

Given recent events, many critics may believe proprietorial influence has won the day, at the expense of preserving quality. Potentially, the move to axe Mike Pavasovic could see the two newspapers under threat again and sold to another owner. Tameside Radio could lose listeners; some fans are boycotting the station until he’s reinstated.

Even with the dominance of the internet, there is still great reassurance and joy in picking up a newspaper or listening to your favourite DJs. The departure of a non league correspondent who has stood on many grassy banks in the worst of weathers (and a walking encyclopaedia on the game at that), way before some of us were born is a huge mistake. Even more so where the footballing counter attractions to Tameside’s six sides are the two Manchester clubs and televised matches. Even in pubs close to Bower Fold, Ewen Fields, Hurst Cross, Seel Park, Tameside Stadium and The Butchers Arms.

I sincerely hope they renege on this decision, for the sake of football in our area and its listeners. Whether they will is another question. Till they do, I shall continue to support The Mighty Stalybridge Celtic, in more ways than one considering recent events.

S.V., 25 February 2014.

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3 thoughts on “Fans Cry Foul Over Axed Local Sports Pundit

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  1. I knew something like this was bound to happen when I first learnt that New Charter had taken over Tameside Radio, and then the Reporter. New Charter are getting their fingers in too many pies, and their “gagging order” stance on criticism is becoming more evident. Look at poor old Curmudgeon (musingsofcurmudgeon.blogspot.co.uk), one time Reporter columnist, sacked for daring to criticise the council, whom by natural course of their core work New Charter are very much in bed with.

    “There will be no editorial influence” – no, of course not, just the fear that you’ll get sacked if you criticise the wrong person/people!

    If I was another DJ at Tameside Radio I would probably resign in support. Tameside Radio have sacked a legend. Even though I don’t follow football that much, his show was always a joy to listen to. Interesting news, commentary and interviews with local managers and the like, giving a real insight into the local game. Let’s hope either he is reinstated or another local station takes him and his greatness on.

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    1. Hi Mark,

      The main elephant in the room is this: why on earth have we allowed companies without media experience to take over our radio stations and newspapers? Proprietorial influence has happened for several years in the media; not only Murdoch with The Times and – supposedly – our local newspaper, but also the Rothermere family with the Daily Mail.

      Instead of being axed, I think Curmudgeon might have left on his own accord. I think he may have been unhappy with the change in management, in spite of any assurances over the editorial direction at the time. Though he might have ruffled a few feathers and amused some readers, I wasn’t a fan of his column at all. Even so, I would have defended his right to offer a dissenting opinion.

      Back to Pav, I hope they do see sense, or that at least another local station takes him on. The problem is, what was originally Piccadilly Radio, Key 103 and BBC Radio Manchester have mainly been in thrall to the two Manchester clubs with some coverage for Greater Manchester’s other Football League sides, and a separate non league programme.

      In contrast with other BBC Local Radio stations, we don’t have live commentary from Ewen Fields or Bower Fold. BBC Radio Cumbria for example gives Workington, Barrow AFC and Carlisle United similar billing as the big Manchester sides would enjoy with Radio Manchester.

      The last two paragraphs explain why they should reconsider their decision. (Please do, for the sake of Tameside football).

      Bye for now,

      Stuart.

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  2. New Charter really should stick to housing and not stick their oar into things that are none of its business. Someone (I can’t remember who) hit the nail on the head by saying that they shouldn’t be using Tameside Radio and the Reporter & Chronicle newspapers as an extension of their PR department.

    I am one of those fans who are boycotting Tameside Radio for the foreseeable. It’s Revolution all the way! I never buy the Reporter anyway so no change there. Hopefully they are beginning to realise what a grave error they have made in sacking Pav and will reinstate him. Until then (if), sorry Mike Wallbank, sorry Samson, sorry the Cottrells and sorry Weekend Wireless posse, it’s been nice knowing you and I will miss you as well as I will miss Pav.

    You could be right about Curmudgeon, he may well have left of his own accord. Even if that is the case, I reckon he might just have been sacked anyway if he didn’t leave of his own accord. Some of his articles I liked, others not so much.

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