Champions League: Sir Alex Ferguson 'can't ban' journalist

By John SinnottBBC Sport

Manchester United are unlikely to be able to ban a reporter who asked manager Sir Alex Ferguson a question about Ryan Giggs.

Rob Harris of the Associated Press posed a question to Ferguson about the winger at a media day held by Uefa.

Giggs has been identified in Parliament as the married footballer named on Twitter as having an injunction over an alleged affair with a reality TV star.

"I don't think we can ban him," a United spokesman told BBC Sport.

Harris had asked Ferguson about Giggs's importance to United for Saturday's Champions League final against Barcelona at Wembley, which received a terse response from the United manager: "All of the players are important, every one of them."

Ferguson then whispered to an aide: "We'll get him. Ban him on Friday."

Both Ferguson and Barcelona counterpart Pep Guardiola are required by Uefa regulations to give pre-final media conferences on Friday.

But the United spokesman pointed out that as Friday's event is organised by Uefa, the Old Trafford club has no jurisdiction to ban Harris.

"I don't think we can [ban him], but check it out with Uefa," said the United spokesman. "The answer is probably no."

AP's managing editor for sport Lou Ferrara was also confident that Harris would be able to continue reporting the build-up to Saturday's showpiece event.

"Rob was doing his job as a journalist by asking a question," said Ferrara. "Our expectation is that he'll ask more questions, and be afforded the ability to do so, as he covers the world's most popular sport."

Harris is not the first media representative to feel the force of Ferguson's displeasure.

Ferguson has not given a post-match interview to the BBC since 2004 after a BBC Three documentary about his son Jason, who was then working as a football agent.

"As you know Sir Alex does not speak to the BBC, but BBC reporters were at Tuesday's media day as it was organised by Uefa," added the United spokesman.

Later on Tuesday Greater Manchester Police confirmed cars - believed to be journalists' vehicles - had been damaged outside Giggs' house by a group of vandals.

"Shortly after 1520 BST police were called following reports a number of cars had been damaged," said a GMP statement.

"Officers attended and discovered at least six cars had been vandalised after a group of offenders arrived in a Ford Transit van and attacked the vehicles. Inquiries are continuing."

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