Sports title finds mystery hole in company finances

Hundreds of freelance journalists could be out of pocket following news that "financial irregularities" have forced the Non-League Paper into administration.

Editor David Emery said the weekly sport newspaper is now up for sale and will continue being published. He said that whatever money is offered for the title will go towards paying creditors.

One journalist is known to be owed £5,000 and another is owed £2,000.

Emery said that payment is guaranteed for all work carried out during the administration period.

Financial director Jonathan Stobart has left the company as well as account manager Dave Swinton.

Emery said the title had gone into administration because "a huge hole" had unexpectedly been found in the company finances. He said that it could well become subject to a police investigation.

Owner Chris Ingram has refinanced the paper to keep it going in the short term.

Emery said: "We were in the process of doing a management buyout involving myself when we discovered these problems. We are trying to discover where the money has gone and how.

"This is a problem for lots of small companies who rely on financial experts to handle their accounts.

"Personally it is a horror that people who you trust in a small company can betray you so badly that it puts the business in jeopardy."

The Non-League Paper employs seven full-time journalists and relies on a network of hundreds of correspondents across the country who follow nonleague football. The agency Sportsbeat supplies much of the content.

It is the second time the paper has gone into administration. The last time was in 2002 when £272,000 went missing from the company finances.

Emery said: "There is no doubt the Non-League Paper will continue — owned by whom and run from where we shall have to find out."

He said the company is a going concern and made a small profit last year, but this year the launch costs of a new title — The League Paper — kept the company's finances in the red.

Emery said whether The League Paper reappears will depend on the new owners.

Freelances who are owed money can contact the administrators, Vantis, on 020 7467 4000.

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