Friday, September 08, 2006

Good sport

The Sportsman is struggling on and you have to ask why?

This week a consortium of shareholders has been meeting to talk about taking over the paper. There is some irony locked in there somewhere about the Sportsman being aimed at "gamblers".

The paper still has a staff of 100 despite making a few redundancies and has been continuing to print after it went into administration in July. The administrator UHY Hacker Young has been talking confidently, but so far nothing has happened and I can see nothing that is going to save this ill-conceived paper.

Despite The Sportsman failing to meet expectations months after launch investors seem prepared to pour more money into the project. Publishing seems to have this strange effect on people. Long after plugs should have been pulled people insist on throwing more money in.

Millions have already been wasted on the paper, which by May had managed to attract sales of just 16,315. My bet is that since then, and over the summer, sales have fallen to an even lower level, barely above 10,000.

Direct rival, Trinity Mirror's Racing Post may have lost some ground, but it is still shifting 71,146 a day. The Sportsman has no hope of catching it. Its breakeven circulation target is a whopping 40,000 copies.

The picture gets darker still when you look at how many free newspapers have launched. London now has four free daily titles with the arrival of thelondonpaper this week.

With so much freely available, an established rival and acres of sports coverage, who is going to pay £1 for an extra gambling read?

Particularly a read that launched with a focus on online gambling (why?) and has shifted to lead with horseracing. What does that say? Months after launch they realise they had the wrong market.


Post a Comment

<< Home