Premier League plans put photographers' livelihoods at risk, says NUJ

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The National Union of Journalists, British Press Photographers Association and Sports Journalists’ Association have called on the Premier League to rethink its plans to restart games with only two independent photographers per match.

Usually, a minimum of 23 photographers would cover a Premier League game, but Project Restart proposes just two, with slots most likely to go to large agencies or wires.

Natasha Hirst, chair of the NUJ Photographers’ Council said: “Photographers’ livelihoods are at risk if the Premier League does not find solutions to increase coverage of the games. 

“Sports photographers are highly skilled professionals who are relied upon to produce varied and vibrant images that sports fans are accustomed to. We are deeply concerned that the Premier League has not engaged with the bodies that represent photographers, broadcasters and reporters as they have developed their plans for Project Restart.

“The union has been working with the BPPA and SJA in consultation with experienced sports photographers and has put together a set of solutions to ensure good coverage of the games while meeting high standards of health and safety during the coronavirus pandemic. 

“This is an opportunity for the Premier League to set a positive precedent for long-term sports coverage and we call on them to meet with us to discuss the way forward.”

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, added: “I have written to Richard Masters, the Premier League’s chief executive, asking him to discuss this important matter with us. 

“A range of sporting bodies are now considering putting games and events back on and it is in their interest, as well as our photographer members, to ensure the broadest possible coverage for fans, even more so if the events are behind closed doors. 

“This will also have an impact on sports reporters and film crews – some of the first journalists to lose work because of Covid-19. We need to get sports and sports journalism back in business, operating with the necessary health and safety measures.”