Bosses promise no false starts for national sports paper

By Dominic Ponsford

The launch of Britain’s first daily newspaper for gamblers is now a
dead cert according to its owners – with the first issue expected in a
matter of weeks.

Twenty journalists started work on Tuesday at the Hammersmith
offices of The Sportsman. The title is gearing up to a full staff of
120 over the next three weeks, with around 80 of these expected to be
journalists.

Editor-in-chief Charlie Methven said: “There is no
question that this is going to happen, from now on there is no
uncertainty – this is going to be the first new national daily
newspaper in 20 years.”

Every member of staff at the paper will
be given a share of the company, making up a total share in The
Sportsman of 10 per cent. Methven said this was “an absolute first in
media organisations in this country”.

Methven, a former NUJ
father of chapel at Telegraph Group, said: “Journalism is bizarre in
that companies refuse to incentivise their employees.”

“If you
went into any institution in the City and said you were not giving
employees share options, bonuses or incentivisation packages they would
think you were deeply odd.”

He added: “We want to give sports betting journalism a national newspaper touch of class that it’s never received before.”

Sportsman
bosses don’t want to be tied down to a launch date, but it is
understood that the title is likely to hit newsstands in March or April.

According
to company sources, some £12 million of funding is now in place, mainly
from private investors rather than institutions. The title needs to
sell 42,000 copies to break even.

The cover price is expected to be less than the Racing Post’s, but more than a typical national daily.

Last
week the Racing Post increased its Monday to Friday cover price by 10p
to £1.40, leading one Sportsman insider to speculate that they are
building up a war chest for price cuts after The Sportsman launches.

New
appointments to The Sportsman this week included Mark Sullivan as
greyhound editor. The paper had not been intending to cover greyhounds,
but changed tack following feedback from focus groups.

Sullivan
is author of The Ultimate Greyhound and, according to The Sportsman, is
the holder of the world record for predicting the most winners on a
greyhound racing card.

James Moore has been made gaming editor,
covering casinos and poker. He previously wrote the “You Bet” section
in The Daily Telegraph.

Former News International digital director Mark Maydon has been appointed to run The Sportsman’s website.

He is a former racing editor of The Sun and is credited with bringing The Sun website into profitability.

James Eastham, former sports editor of gambling magazine Inside Edge, takes the same role at The Sportsman.

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