Sportsman denies turning into freesheeet as it opts out of ABC

The Sportsman has denied it will be turning free or reducing its frequency
following a decision to opt out of the ABC system for collating
circulation – but there has been an admission that “one or two” jobs
may go.

Advantage, part of Associated Newspapers, has taken over The Sportsman’s distribution and will also audit the circulation.

Managers
at the seven days a week betting newspaper, which launched in March,
claim this is because ABC figures contained a “number of
inconsistencies, most notably in the Irish sales returns, both up and
down, and we therefore agree that we cannot confidently post a correct
ABC figure”.

A Sportsman spokesman said: “To weaken the product, which inevitably
job cuts would do, I don’t think that’s likely to be the case at all.
There might be one or two but I don’t think you’ll be seeing any
dramatic slashing here and there.”

He added: “Dropping frequency or going free would be way too
dramatic. When you’ve got cards and form, which is a lot of information
you’re supplying, a punter expects to pay for that. If you go racing
a race card is £2.50 and you don’t even get form. There’s racing every
day if you’re going to be a serious racing paper you can’t be anything
less.”

May’s ABC figures showed The Sportsman edging up 2.36 per cent
month-on-month from a launch figure of 21,819 in April to 22,333. But
actual paid-for sales are still well short of its stated break-even
circulation figure of 40,000.

Excluding bulks, The Sportsman dropped from 16,315 to 12,762.

A report in The Times and The Telegraph that the paper is hoping to raise between
£3 and £4million to stay afloat were not confirmed or denied by The
Sportsman – but the paper’s spokesman said investment would be a
“definite tonic” although he didn’t think any particular figures were
being sought.

Following reports that the paper would focus more on racing to
compete with The Racing Post a spokesman added that June circulation
figures showed the paper was up 20 per cent each day of Royal Ascot
before crashing down on the Monday after the horse-racing event.

He said: “It’s basically football and racing that work everything else
will still be there but we’ll very rarely lead with anything other than
football or racing. It does seem a betting person rather than a sports
person does seem to go for one of those two rather than anything else.”

According to The Sportsman, the opt-out from ABC will be for the “foreseeable future”.

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