BROADCASTER John Suchet has slammed management at Southampton Football Club after an incident where it’s claimed a charity event to help dementia sufferers was ruined.

Mr Suchet, an ITN newsreader and patron of For Dementia, said: “The people that run Southampton Football Club should hang their heads in shame.”

He was speaking after an incident when the club was involved in a dispute with the charity that provides nurses for those with dementia at a launch event at St Mary’s stadium.

Mr Suchet attacked the club’s decision not to allow the Daily Echo to cover a press conference.

“This is outrageous, it’s ridiculous,”

he said, after the press conference had to be moved on to the streets outside St Mary’s.

The cause is close to Mr Suchet’s heart after his wife Bonnie was diagnosed with dementia nearly four years ago and the couple received help from Admiral Nurses, who are supported by the charity.

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Now For Dementia is calling on Saints to apologise after claiming the club “ruined” its campaign to launch a service to help people suffering with dementia in Southampton.

For Dementia is also calling on the club to make a donation to their cause to compensate them following the event at St Mary’s Stadium.

The row comes after charity workers and John Suchet were forced out of their own event at the stadium and on to the pavement to seek publicity for their cause.

For Dementia had booked the Matt Le Tissier hospitality suite at St Mary’s to launch their Admiral Nurses in the city.

As part of their campaign the charity had invited the Daily Echo to report on the launch and carry out interviews with nurses, carers and Mr Suchet.

But instead of using a conference to demonstrate how three specialist nurses can work alongside health services in the city, the charity and its supporters were forced on to the pavement outside St Mary’s to carry out interviews after the club banned the Daily Echo from stepping foot inside the stadium.

Despite pleas that they hired the suite specifically so local media, including the Daily Echo, could attend, event organisers were told that the Saints chairman, Nicola Cortese would not allow any Daily Echo reporter to enter the stadium.

It is the second time Saints have stopped the Daily Echo from reporting a charity event.

At Christmas the club refused to let photographers take photos of players handing out toys to sick children at Southampton General Hospital.

The annual event is a regular fixture for both Saints and the Daily Echo that for many years has allowed ill youngsters a unique souvenir on their road to recovery during a difficult time.

The Daily Echo was banned from St Mary’s last month when we reported details of the club’s proposals to revamp its training facilities at Staplewood.

Other media, including Sky and the BBC, also reported the proposals that were already in the public domain with New Forest District Council and have since been given planning consent.

The Daily Echo was under the impression the ban only related to footballing matters and not for charity events that were simply hosted on club property.

For Dementia have now written a formal letter of complaint to St Mary’s general manager of Saints Event Management Kven San Wong asking for an explanation.

Organiser Sue Hill said: “The whole thing was ridiculous. We had to get everyone, including carers, some of whom are over 70, to leave the comfortable room we paid for to go outside for press interviews.

“I can’t believe they would put us in the middle of their argument and I had met them a number of times before and told them media were coming, but had no warning about the Daily Echo not being allowed in.

Editor Ian Murray responds to comments regarding the Daily Echo's ban from Southampton FC

“We were relying on coverage of the conference in the Daily Echo to get essential publicity in Hampshire, but thanks to this petty ban, our launch which has nothing to do with football, was ruined.

“I am now waiting to hear back from the club and would like an apology for the way they caused detriment to our campaign.

“And a donation to our charity would most certainly be welcome,” she added.

A spokesman for Southampton Football Club last night declined to comment.


Daily Echo editor Ian Murray commented: “It is such a pity that this spat between the club and ourselves is continuing to harm charities.

“This paper, and indeed the club in the past, has always worked hard to help support charity work. We have covered many charity launches and events at St Mary’s.

“Regrettably, however, it seems that for the time being we will not be able to provide much-needed publicity to hardworking charities and organisations that stage events at St Mary’s Stadium as the club’s management will not permit this.

“We will, of course, continue our support for good causes wherever and whenever we can do so.

“Ironically, despite the ban, our coverage of the Saints’ football news, on and off the pitch, continues to go from strength to strength.”