Inevitably, Newcastle United have laid down the law regarding Twitter and all players have been issued with strict guidelines as to what they can and cannot to on the loathsome application.
Basically, they’re not allowed to use it (or other social networking sites) to reveal ‘privileged’ information about the club that might give other clubs a competitive advantage and they can’t use it in a way which might undermine their colleagues at the club.
Joey Barton – along with all the players – has been given a letter from lawyers telling him that he’ll be in breach of contract if he uses to Twitter to comment on club affairs again so, unless he’s prepared to risk his salary, we’ve probably heard the last of his Tweets until he leaves the club.
Pardew summarised his dislike of Twitter as follows:
“The problem I have with this new medium of Twitter is that people are twittering in an emotional state. Putting something out instantly can be very, very, damaging. Not only to a football club but to any organisation and it could be to the police too, which I’ve seen on occasion.“
I suppose the Twitter restrictions are fair enough. If I Tweeted something about my boss that didn’t reflect well on him, I’m sure I could expect disciplinary action at least, if not the sack (although in my case I actually work for myself, so I’d simply reemploy myself again).
I wouldn’t get too worked up about ‘free speech’ issues either; it’s a concept that has always been relative anyway. Joey is of course still free to Tweet if he likes. If it’s not libellous he won’t face any problems from the law but he could suffer the consequences according to his contractual obligations.
“We’ve notified the players this morning. They’ve probably seen it as another sort of dictatorial moment from us but we’ve had to issue them legally with a letter to say this is not right, it’s a breach of contract and you have to understand you’re going to be fined and disciplined for that. It can’t happen. Sir Alex shared with me quite ferociously how difficult this Twitter issue is for clubs, particularly managers.“
Pardew went on to intimate that the Barton situation hasn’t made for an ideal pre-season. He said:
“No, I’m not happy with it. It hasn’t been the most perfect pre-season. I don’t think Newcastle United are in chaos but are we having a difficult week? Yes. Do we need to get our fans into a better place? Yes. Does the team need to improve on the pitch? Yes.“
So that might be the end of things as far as Twittergate goes.