Oldie for sale as Wisden calls time

The Oldie is up for sale, as cricketing publisher Wisden sheds two magazines from its portfolio.

The Getty-owned group is also selling its monthly magazine the Wisden Cricketer, but retaining the Indian-published Cricinfo and its books business including the world-famous cricketing Wisden almanac.

Wisden has stated it will concentrate on growth areas of its cricket website Cricinfo — which with 20 million users, is the world's most popular — and the ball-tracking technology Hawk-Eye. A company spokesman said the move was instigated to raise funds to invest in Wisden's online and technology business and that both magazines were "doing well commercially".

The Oldie was down 10.5 per cent year on year to 23,412 in the last ABCs. Wisden Cricketer has maintained a steady circulation — 35,584 in the last ABCs for the period ending December 2005. The spokesman added: "The company doesn't have to sell if it doesn't get the package it is looking for."

Wisden acquired The Oldie in 2001 under a deal which saw the magazine get a £500,000 cash injection from billionaire oil tycoon Sir John Paul Getty. It was produced under contract by John Brown Publishing, which also had a partnership with Getty on Wisden Cricket Monthly. Getty, a philanthropist and cricket lover, bought Wisden in 1993 and his son Mark now chairs it.

Former Private Eye editor Richard Ingrams, who founded The Oldie in 1992, said that the magazine, famously derided by Julie Burchill as the "the most pathetic magazine ever published", relied on subscriptions for about 20,000 of its sales, with the rest newsstand. Ingrams said potential buyers would have to seek to grow the magazine by subscription: "We've always had problems with WH Smith in getting the magazine on the newsstands.

"We are interested in subscriptions — and a lot of magazines find this now — the newsstand is controlled by WH Smith [which] is not all that interested in small circulation magazines."

The Wisden spokesman said that the sale was in the early stages with "no serious discussions" being had as yet.

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