IN case you hadn’t noticed, Mr Cortese, you aren’t in the Barclays Premier League any more.

You’re in League One. With little old Rochdale, little old Hartlepool, little old Brentford and little old AFC Bournemouth.

A ban on press photographers at St Mary’s will only damage your club – both in the present and the future and at a time when you should be crying out for positive publicity.

How things have changed.

Back in 1989-90, when, under Chris Nicoll, Saints finished seventh in the old Division One, I watched my boyhood heroes dish out a 4-1 thrashing to Kenny Dalglish’s Liverpool.

We stood in the car park at the Dell before the match and watched the likes of Ian Rush, John Barnes and Peter Beardsley step off the coach from Merseyside.

But it was Rod Wallace (2), Paul Rideout and Matt Le Tissier who starred for Nicoll’s side. I was blown away – by the performance, the amazing fans, the ropy old Dell and simply how nice everyone at the club was.

For the rest of the 90s, it was my life. Every other Saturday we would turn up at the old temporary building that housed the Junior Saints staff and pick up our tickets. The club even had the Family Enclosure above the old Milton Road terrace. Alan Shearer would always stop to sign an autograph or two and chat with adoring youngsters.

It was a wonderful time.

Shunt the clock forward 20 years and I’m sat writing this piece with a stunning view over the pitch from the St Mary’s press box. I’ve had a pie and a cup of coffee and it’s all very nice, but it’s not the same.

This once proud club has been turned into a laughing stock, both by the shambolic previous regime and the control freaks of the current one.

Mr Cortese clearly thinks his club will make a buck or two by syndicating pictures taken by their own man. I’ve got news for you, Nicola: You won’t.

If newspapers hate one thing, it is the greed of people like you and we press people tend to stick together in defiance of arrogance.

Yes, the Echo has let its readers down today by not printing pictures of last night’s match.

But we will not be held to ransom by the likes of Nicola Cortese.

Good luck with the promotion bid, because if you fail, there will be plenty of papers standing by with a chuckle and sharpened pencil.

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