Mann leaves Football First as columnists get red card

Editorial
director Chris Mann has left national sport newspaper Football First in
the wake of a series of cutbacks at the loss-making title.

He had
been in charge of the paper for six-and-a-half years and led the
rebranding of it from Sport First to Football First a year ago. His
departure followed the axing of columnists Mike Parry and Alan Brazil
(who both work at TalkSport) and Sky Sports presenter Chris Kamara.

Mann
said: “I went out on a high. My final issue sold 45,000 copies at £1.75
and made a profit for the proprietor – and he’s had very few days like
that.

“But a national football paper needs deep pockets and more
than just one lone investor to support it. I want to pay tribute to
Keith Young, the owner, who has pumped in up to £6million over the
years.

“But we needed others to share our vision. I couldn’t stand another round of cutbacks and I needed to move on.

Keith and I have parted on good terms and we may even work together again.”

He added: “It’s extremely hard because whenever you’ve got a good idea the other newspaper groups come along and nick it.”

Football
First is put together almost entirely by the Press Association at the
agency’s offices in Yorkshire and had a circulation of 28,262 in
December (up from 25,325 a year before).

Mann’s departure follows the arrival of new managing director Lawrence Gosling at Football First in September.

He was previously an editorial director at magazine publisher Incisive Media.

Gosling
said: “We have an editor at PA and didn’t really feel we needed an
editorial director for the size of newspaper we are at the moment.”

Gosling said the decision to cut the columnists followed audience research.

He said the publication was “getting much closer to break-even”.

Mann
said he has been approached by existing publishers of niche titles
about launching new products and is in talks with potential financial
backers. He will continue to be a specialist writer on sport and
leisure for The Business and he has also joined PR and marketing
company Pete Richardson Communications as director of business
development.

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