Last updated : 19 August 2004 By Editor
From the Guardian:

Sir Alex Ferguson is boycotting the BBC in protest at a documentary that turned the spotlight on links between the Manchester United manager and his football agent son Jason.

The United manager is refusing to speak to BBC journalists after the corporation broadcast a documentary earlier this year examining business dealings between the pair.

Although Sir Alex is well known for taking umbrage against particular newspapers and broadcasters who he thinks have wronged him, the BBC had hoped the row would have blown over by the start of the season.

"It is regrettable that Sir Alex has chosen not to speak to the BBC. We do hope he will reconsider," said a BBC Sport spokeswoman.

The blackout meant the corporation could not interview the United manager following his team's opening day defeat at Chelsea on Sunday. He did, however, speak to Sky Sports, which covered the game live.

The pay-TV broadcaster suffered similar treatment at the beginning of last season after a Sky Sports News reporter door-stepped Sir Alex during the summer at the height of speculation over David Beckham's transfer to Real Madrid. On that occasion, he relented three weeks into the season.

The BBC3 documentary that so riled Sir Alex was first broadcast on May 27 and was repeated the following Friday on BBC1.

It came at a sensitive time for the club as it was also considering 99 questions into its transfer dealings posed by John Magnier and JP MacManus, the Irish shareholders who fell out with Sir Alex in a row over the ownership of a horse.

In the documentary, reporter Alex Millar revealed that many of United's first team players had been signed up by his son's Elite agency and alleged that Sir Alex recommended that young players sign up with his son.

The day before the documentary was screened the club announced it was cutting all ties with Elite, following an in-house investigation of transfers in response to pressure from Mr Magnier and Mr McManus.

It has also since settled the row with its Irish shareholders, who own 28.9% of the club, although it is the subject of fresh takeover speculation from Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner Malcolm Glazer.

Sir Alex has a reputation for letting off steam at reporters. As speculation increased over whether Beckham would leave United he let fly at a reporter from the club's official radio station Century FM over a seemingly innocuous question.

"You've been told not to fucking ask that - right?," he told the reporter. "Cut that off, cut that off (pointing to tape recorder). Fucking idiots, you all are. You do that again and you won't be coming back here. You fucking sell your papers and radio shows on the back of this club," he ranted.

Several newspapers that reported the row, including the Sun, the Daily Mirror, the Daily Express and the Daily Star, were subsequently banned from several press conferences.