Free football magazine to target stadiums

A new monthly free football magazine, Open Goal, with a target distribution of 250,000 is to be handed out at every Premier League football stadium from January.

The the 48-page, glossy, A5 sized magazine, will be the latest in a number of big free magazine launches this year. Others include London weeklies Sport and Shortlist.

The new title’s circulation is double that of top-selling football monthly Four Four Two.

Entrepreneur and founder Richard Stonehouse, who is backed by Newcastle based investment group NStar, is also editing the title.

Stonehouse said, ‘Media buyers have realised that ‘free’ does not mean a devalued product. The internet, and the success of the Metro since it arrived from Sweden prove this.’

The magazine aims to reach 36 per cent of each ground’s average attendance. Stonehouse said that Adidas, Reebok, Sky and 888.com are among the high-profile advertisers already to have signed up with the new title.

He added: ‘We managed to distribute 20,000 copies [of a trial issue] at the Arsenal versus Bolton game. Our second dummy issue was also extremely successful at Old Trafford, where a further 25,000 were distributed.

‘Modern stadia such as the Emirates are fantastically designed, and make distribution extremely easy. We also pay our staff to pick up dropped copies, of which, I’m pleased to say, there were very few.”

When asked whether the new, free title might perhaps tread on the toes of current programme sellers, Stonehouse said: ‘We had no problems, and I do not foresee any problems.

‘We can exist side by side with programme sellers, both because fans are going to want to read about their own clubs, and because our product is entirely different to anything on the market.

‘ I am a subscriber to Four Four Two and enjoy the magazine, but it is a bit morose sometimes. Open Goal is much more chatty, less formal, we want more pub talk and passion to fill our pages.”

The first dummy issue can be viewed as an e-magazine at www.opengoalmagazine.net

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