Sports Argus returns as overnight section of Birmingham Mail

The Sports Argus, closed as a standalone publication in April, is back as a section of the Birmingham Mail. The new pink 'un, though, will be printed overnight, meaning it will no longer carry Saturday match results and reviews as it once did.

The company said the new printing time was introduced because the Argus will be printed on pink paper, and it needs enough time to be inserted on to the print run.

The title will cover match previews, while a contingency plan has been made to bring out a special edition for some late-breaking stories.

Birmingham City and West Bromwich Albion have both moved down from the Premiership, meaning they will now have less coverage in the national press.

The Argus will carry all the existing local league results from the previous week, while Saturday's results will be available online at the end of every match.

The new supplement replaces the standalone Sports Argus, which used to provide a results service on Saturday evenings, until it was closed by parent company Trinity Mirror in April.

The Argus sold an average of 10,000 copies a week in 2005, but the actual figure varied between 5,500 and 13,000.

Trinity Mirror announced to staff last week that it would be dedicating an extra eight pages to the new Sports Argus supplement during the football season, bringing the total pagination to 16, compared with 35 pages when it was sold as a standalone.

A new 2am print slot will allow the paper to be on sale first thing in the morning, giving it an extra four hours selling time. The supplement has a redesigned masthead and the paper's original tongue-in-cheek strap line: "A journal for all manly pastimes" is being considered.

The NUJ has raised the issue of whether printing overnight could set a precedent for the rest of the week's paper, but editor Steve Dyson insisted this was "not on the agenda".

He said: "Saturday is a very different marketplace, where people tend to shop earlier in the morning and don't go shopping again. Printing earlier during the week is not on the agenda, what's on the agenda is increasing Saturday's sale."

Deputy father of chapel Chris Morley said: "The Sports Argus had a future as a standalone, if only the company would have invested in it. If the move boosts the sale of the Mail, then that would be something worthwhile, but we have yet to see whether it will do that. At the end of the day, we've lost 10,000 sales on the Saturday night with the loss of the standalone Argus. We will have to see whether it will replicate that with the Mail."

The chapel is due to meet management to discuss the changes, which include working a late shift.

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