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Newcastle United to charge media for exclusive access?

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Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley’s actions and words causing controversy with the media is not a new phenomenon, but word of a “pay to play” package for publications covering the Magpies is a fairly outrageous idea.

And apparently true.

On the heels of banning local paper The Chronicle from covering the team for their coverage of an Ashley protest (picture above), NUFC is said to be introducing an “exclusive access” package to publications. At a charge, reporters would be allowing further privileges than the non-paying media.

From the Chronicle:

“They have told reporters from national titles who are working in the North East that they will no longer be given access to their players between matches this season and will instead give those “privileges” to organisations that pay them.”

The idea is receiving widespread condemnation and may be unlikely to stand the test of popular opinion, but Ashley is no stranger to controversy, having changed the name of St. James Park to Sports Direct Arena and back again among several perceived foibles since buying the Northeast club in 2007. The Chronicle post criticizes Ashley’s new media approach for even simpler reasons; There was less coverage and good will for Newcastle players’ recent visit to an area hospital.

Such an idea seems to be a first and should be viewed as the most slippery of slopes. What would stop Newcastle, or any club employing a strategy, from slapping restrictions on reporting or encouraging bias in the already murky waters of media access? How far are we from plenty of pertinent stories missing the media completely?

In short, this could set a standard that would transcend soccer to other major sports and endanger truth in reporting.

Sergio Aguero expects to miss a month with hamstring injury

Sergio Aguero
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After scoring five goals against Newcastle United, Sergio Aguero may have to wait a bit of time to get back to scoring in the Premier League.

The Manchester City striker lasted just 25 minutes in Argentina’s World Cup qualifier on Thursday, as he was stretchered off with a hamstring injury. 

Aguero underwent testing in Argentina, and told the local media “I think I’m going to be out for a month.”

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Manchester City and Argentina teammate Nicolas Otamendi said Aguero was in tears in the dressing room, and some reports have penned the injury as a torn hamstring.

If Aguero were to be ruled out for a month, he would miss City’s Champions League clash vs. Sevilla, as well as the massive Manchester derby away at United on October 25.

To make matters worse for City supporters, David Silva was forced off after just ten minutes while playing for Spain today. Silva took a harsh challenge from behind, and hobbled off with what looked to be an ankle injury. If Silva’s injury ends up being more than just a knock, City could be without their two most important players in the attack.

Bayern Munich’s Mario Gotze out 10-12 weeks with groin injury

SHANGHAI, CHINA - JULY 21:  Mario Goetze of FC Bayern Muenchen in action during the international friendly match between FC Bayern Muenchen and Inter Milan of the Audi Football Summit 2015 at Shanghai Stadium on July 21, 2015 in Shanghai, China.  (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
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Mario Gotze could be out of action until 2016 after picking up a groin injury on international duty.

The Bayern Munich midfielder suffered a tendon tear in his abductor muscle while stretching for a ball in Germany’s 1-0 loss to Ireland in EURO qualifiers on Thursday. He was taken off in the 35th minute.

Ruled out for 10-12 weeks, Gotze is likely to miss the rest of the first half of the season for Bayern. Their last league match of 2015 is on December 19, which is 11 weeks away. The Bundesliga then goes on winter break, with Bayern’s next match not until January 23.

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Gotze will miss both of Bayern’s upcoming Champions League matches against Arsenal, which is good news for the Gunners as they are in desperate need of a result.

However, Arjen Robben is back in training and will make his return to action within the coming weeks. After starting the Bundesliga seasons with eight wins out of eight, Robben’s return would add just another weapon to Pep Guardiola’s dominant attack.

Robben has not played since being injured in early September while playing for the Netherlands, and could feature for Bayern against Werder Bremen next week.