Non League Today closes but could be saved by footballer

Non League Today – one of two newspapers dedicated to football outside the Football League – has closed, causing three staff to lose their jobs.

A number of freelances on the weekly paid-for title will also be affected.

However, the paper’s group editor, David Watters, has told Press Gazette there are nine potential buyers – including a Premiership footballer – and said the paper could be relaunched in ‘two or three weeks”.

The title is owned by the Australian-based International Publishing Group, which also prints British Football Week.

Non League Today, published every Sunday, was launched with a £1 million investment in August 2007 as a competitor to the Non-League Paper.

Watters left the Non-League Paper to launch the new title, but was later successfully sued by his former employers.

Watters blamed a number of factors for Non League Today’s demise, including its cover price, an excessive print run, no dedicated advertising staff, and the weak pound.

‘I thought we were pretty safe, but we hadn’t allowed for the Aussie dollar. Where they were paying $20,000 to pay contractors, they’re now paying $30,000.

‘In my opinion, we also made a serious error putting the price up to £2 [from £1.50, and a £1 launch price]. The Non League Paper stayed at £1.50 – you spoke to a lot of people, and it was a no-brainer.

‘I begged them to keep the price down, even to £1.99, but they wouldn’t even have that.”

Watters said sales peaked at 33,000, but fell to 20,000, compared to the Non League paper’s 40,000. Despite that, the print run was 120,000.

‘It was too much,’said Watters.

Richard Hughes, assistant editor, and Ronan George, reporter, will lose their jobs – but Watters hopes to employ them if a new title is formed.

‘Richard is a great guy, hard working, and Ronan is a great reporter with a great future,’he said, adding that at least ‘three or four’freelancers would lose their main income.

Watters said, if a new paper is formed, lessons will be learned. ‘It will be a lot easier second time around,’he said.

‘I am quite bullish and hope to be back. I was quoted [in Press Gazette] saying I would love it if there were 10 non-league papers, and I still do.

‘It would be sad if there was only one.”

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