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Cricket: SPL accused of 'removing free speech' after glut of fines
7:00am Friday 22nd June 2012 in Sport
SOUTHERN Premier League officials have responded after being accused of “opening a can of worms” and “removing free speech” by clamping down on comments in the media.
Lymington became the latest victims of the SPL club charter when they were fined £100 following an interview given by skipper Darren Cowley to this newspaper.
Cowley described as “a bad decision” his dismissal in a game against Hampshire Academy last month and went on to say “but the umpire apologised afterwards”.
Correspondence subsequently received by the SPL from the umpire claimed no apology had been made. The Daily Echo identified the umpire as Steve Locke who, earlier this week, declined to comment.
Lymington’s case was the fourth alleged breach of the charter this season with a league official confirming a fifth incident was currently active.
Hampshire were the first club to be brought to book after publishing on their official website an article which criticised an umpire following their Academy’s match against South Wilts. They removed the report once they had received a letter from the SPL.
Sarisbury Athletic were threatened with disciplinary action after their captain David Banks had voiced his opinion to the Portsmouth News on Totton & Eling’s David Taylor scoring 330 in a second team match.
Banks had described the innings as “pointless”, although no action was taken after the league received an acceptable response from both the player and Sarisbury.
A league official confirmed action had also been taken against Burridge after a player posted on social network site Facebook foul or abusive comments about an opponent.
Part of the charter states clubs and players undertake “not to publish through the media, including the Internet, derogatory comments about the league, its officers and committee, umpires, scorers, other clubs or players”.
A player, who the Daily Echo will not be identifying to avoid him facing disciplinary action, said: “It is madness and they are taking away freedom of speech. They have opened a can of worms because nobody is going to be able to say anything.”
League secretary Steve Vear said: “We are trying to be consistent in our approach. The charter is designed to ensure inappropriate comments aren’t made in the various media outlets, including social media. It is not designed to limit the freedom of speech. It is, however, designed to keep comments at an appropriate level.”
He added: “We do not pro-actively police this. I have no desire, the resources or the time to do that. The league is responsible under the charter to react if there is an issue raised by one of our members.”
League chairman Paul Thompson said: “The charter and the rules are agreed by all the clubs. They are not imposed by management.”
When contacted by the Daily Echo, Lymington and Hampshire Cricket both politely declined to comment on their respective cases.