Football magazine Eleven was on the brink of securing extra backing from millionaire boxing promoter Frank Warren this week, according to its founding editor.
The deal follows a series of cash-flow problems which delayed publication and left 25 irate sports journalists waiting to get paid.
Concerns were first raised by freelances after issue nine (June/July), dedicated to the end of the football season, failed to appear on news-stands.
Founding editor Chris Nawrat said the issue was delayed and then published later than planned with a limited print run.
“We got into a mess with the cash flow and delayed issue nine. Then we printed a limited amount, so it does exist but everything was taken over by events,” he said.
The magazine has attracted several sports writers from the nationals, including The Guardian’s Harry Pearson, Observer football columnist Ian Ridley, and columnist and former government spin doctor Charlie Whelan.
Ridley also fell out with Nawrat after he discovered that an interview he did with Michael Owen for Eleven had been syndicated, without his knowledge, to a magazine in Australia.
Although he was paid for the piece in Eleven, he claimed he should have received £300 to 400 for the syndicated copy.
“I am angry,” he told Press Gazette. “But it is less about the money and more the way that I’ve been treated.
“I believe in my case they behaved dishonourably and I will never work for them again.
“I can afford to lose a few quid; it’s the others that I feel sorry for who don’t have that luxury,” he added.
Another source said other contributors had been paid on time until issues seven and eight, when Nawrat admitted the title had encountered financial difficulties.
Warren, a personal friend of Nawrat’s, was expected to sign over a sum this week. He is not the principal backer, but his investment, according to Nawrat, is “substantial”.
“A refinancing package is imminent. It has been agreed. It is just a matter of crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s. All the contributors have
been kept abreast of the situation, I have asked them to be patient,” Nawrat said.
A former Sunday Times, sports editor, Nawrat launched Eleven last year, targeting “serious” football fans aged 19 and upwards.
He said his background was editorial and he had not been prepared for the business side associated with a launch.
The next issue is due to appear on 14 August to coincide with the start of the football season.
by Ruth Addicott