A former Newcastle Journal editor has been appointed head of corporate affairs for Newcastle United – the club that once banned his newspaper’s journalists from its press box.

Brian Aitken left his post of regional business director at Trinity Mirror North East in 2014 after 11 years as editor of the Journal.

His appointment at St James’ Park comes after a number of years in which relations between the club and sections of the media have been decidedly troubled.

North East journalists were banned from attending press conferences and matches at St James’ Park for 14 months from October 2013, while The Daily Telegraph was banned twice and even Channel 4 News reporter Alex Thomson was blacklisted.

Managing director Lee Charnley said Aitken’s appointment was an attempt by the club to become more connected with the local business community.

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He said: “We’re excited to be bringing Brian on board. Whilst the club has many close, established relationships with businesses across the region and beyond, we recognise that we have, in some respects, become disconnected from the North East business community.

“We know we need to do more to be part of the region’s vibrant entrepreneurial scene and to give businesses the opportunity to be part of the club.

“In Brian, we have recruited someone who is well known and respected in the region and he will be working closely with Nicole Atkin, Head of Business Development, to liaise with businesses and gather intelligence on how we can all work better together.”

Aitken, who set up his own consultancy after leaving Trinity Mirror, said: “I’m tremendously excited by the prospect of working with Lee and his team.

“Newcastle United is the biggest brand in the region and in my discussions with Lee it has been made clear that he wants to position the club at the heart of the North East’s business activities.

“They are open for business, and open to business. And with Rafa Benitez bringing the feel-good factor back to St James’ Park, there has never been a better time for the re-connection process to begin.”