Hayters, the famous sports news agency that went into administration last year and was rescued by two of its former journalists, has been relaunched as Hayters Teamwork.
The dramatic story of Hayters’ revival was told by one of those journalists, Gerry Cox, Hayters Teamwork’s chief executive, at last week’s launch party. Talks had been going on for a year when, last November, Cox and his Teamwork sports agency partner Nick Callow were ready to buy.
But a week before the deal Callow had a brain haemorrhage and required six hours of surgery to save his life. He only returned to work the week before the party.
Cox went ahead in his absence but admitted: “It was touch and go at one stage whether the merger would happen, let alone whether Nick would be with us.”
It was a tough six months trying to put the companies together but he was pleased to have got it right because “there was a feeling Hayters – this great institution – would probably have struggled to get past Christmas”.
Teamwork staff have moved from the Hammersmith headquarters to Hayters’ office in Clerkenwell, and 20 of the merged staffs have moved to Tottenham to share a building with sports photography agency Action Images, one of the company’s new partners.
“The staff have been terrific. They’ve all got on well. We managed to do the transition fairly painlessly. We haven’t had to make redundancies or huge cuts. We have retained the staff and shown them there is a way ahead,” said Cox.
Callow met Cox, chairman of the Sports Writers Association, 13 years ago at Hayters, founded 50 years ago by the late Reg Hayter. They bought Teamwork 10 years ago with Mark Irwin, now The Sun’s chief football writer, and were looking for a bigger base when they were approached by Hayters. Now they are to expand Hayters Teamwork from providing simply copy to the media to photography with Action Images, sports book publishing with publisher Randall Northam’s SportsBooks, statistical information with Dutch company Infostrada, into editorial services for public relations companies and journalist training.
Cox said: “We probably learned everything we know about the business from Reg and others like our mentor Dennis Signy. Hayters has been for years an academy of sports writing talent and we have tried to encourage the journalists under our tutelage at Teamwork to carry on those principles. They are taught to do the right thing, cultivating good personal contacts.
“It’s probably an old-fashioned approach but we always found that taking the long-term approach pays off,” he said.
By Jean Morgan