Trinity Mirror could bid as staff keep sports title going

Emery: staff will get money back

Trinity Mirror is expected to lead bids this week for The Non-League Paper and its sister titles, which went into administration on 25 June.

It was Trinity Mirror that served a winding up order on Non-League Media for an unpaid £200,000 printing bill, which sent the company into administration.

Non League Paper has kept going this far only because some members of staff dug into their own pockets. One went into his internet bank account on a Friday night and withdrew £10,000 to pay the printers on Saturday morning, then drove to the West Ferry printers to deliver the banker’s draft in person.

One or two staff have also built up a £35,000 fund with which to pay correspondents.

David Emery, managing editor and editor-in-chief, said: "Once the paper is sold they will get their money." A creditors’ meeting is due on 23 September.

Emery also said: "It was a three-month administration order and in that time we had to show our way ahead. We had two choices – one of which was to raise £1.5m in the City and refinance the plc."

But the drawback to that plan was that former chairman Geoff Gutteridge, with whom Non-League Media is in dispute over £350,000 of missing company money, still has a 27 per cent shareholding. A bank holds the shares as security against a debt Gutteridge has with them.

There was a chance that Gutteridge would have voted down any City deal, which made investors reluctant.

After an eight-month fight, Non-League Media thought it had reached a settlement with Gutteridge on 11 April, with his shares being voted jointly by the company and Gutteridge’s brother. But Gutteridge refused to implement the agreement.

A summary judgment against Gutteridge by Bracken Partners, a shareholder in Gutteridge’s Eye group, has been taken out in the High Court in a bid to recoup the money, which was used to buy a house in his wife’s name.

The Department of Trade and Industry is also investigating the failure of the company.

Last week, Non-League Media’s second option came into play when the assets of the company, which include the two-year-old newspaper, The Non-League Magazine (formerly Team Talk), She Kicks, a women’s soccer magazine, and the annual Non-League Directory, went up for sale. Some titles could be sold separately.

Apart from Trinity Mirror, potential buyers may include sports newspaper Sport First and a consortium of businessmen have indicated they will bid.

The editorial team remains intact, turning out the newspaper. Emery said that the administration order means they are guaranteed their money.

With the football season in full swing, the Non-League Paper is almost hitting a 50,000 sale again after a low of 33,000 during the summer.

By Jean Morgan

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