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Manchester United have reversed their decision to ban photographers at two globally-respected news agencies.
Thomson Reuters and Agence France-Presse were barred from Old Trafford because two news photographers had followed and photographed supporters inside the stadium during fan protests earlier this month. The agencies had their passes withheld for United’s match against Fulham on Tuesday but the club has now lifted the suspension.
The News Media Coalition, which campaigns on behalf of the sector, said: “These photographs were taken and published because it was a matter of exceptional public interest both nationally and internationally. The photographers were doing their job.
“This is a good outcome for the two news agencies, the wider news sector, fans, media freedom and common sense.
“We welcome Manchester United’s move in ultimately recognising the importance of the independent news sector, including in this case the very difficult and even dangerous circumstances in which the two agency photographers found themselves.”
Colleagues of the photographers were enraged by the initial decision, saying there was clear public interest to record the dramatic scenes two weeks ago on camera.
The fixture against Liverpool was eventually postponed amid a dramatic outpouring of anger against United's American owners, the Glazer family, following the European Super League fiasco.
Pictures of supporters storming the pitch were quickly shared around the world as fans clashed with police in ugly scenes which left two officers injured.
Reuters employs around 2,500 journalists and 600 photographers and is one of the largest news agencies in the world. AFP, headquartered in Paris, was founded in 1835 and is one of the world's oldest news agencies.