Sportsman closes after six-month fight

Six months after launching as Britain’s first new national daily newspaper for 20 years The Sportsman has closed.

The founders of the paper – former Daily Telegraph diary editor Charlie Methven and ex-Telegraph Group managing director Jeremy Deedes – had hoped to cash in on Britain’s muilti-billion gambling industry.

But the 40,000 circulation figure intiially needed for the paper to break even was never reached.

The Sportsman’s last official ABC figure, for May, was 16,315 – of which 12,762 were paid for.

The Sportsman was launched with £12 million of private backing and has been in administration since 20 July.

Today the paper’s administrator’s revealed that “discussions to refinance the paper continued to be at a stalemate.”

Around 60 full time journalists and 20  other staff have lost their jobs and will receive wages up to and including yesterday.

The Sportsman revealed today that in recent weeks circulation has been picking up, prompting “two major new daily advertisers” to come on board.

Chairman Jeremy Deedes said: “It is a very sad note on which The Sportsman closes. Since we redesigned the paper six weeks ago, circulation has grown every week.

“Ironically, our last recorded sale, of 21,000, was not only our best day’s sale since the launch period, but also corresponded to the figure set out as the ‘break even’ under the new business plan.

“To be shutting on a rising sale is somehow more heart-breaking than if we had been in steady decline. Our first thoughts are with the staff who have put in a Herculean effort over the past weeks, in very difficult circumstances.

"Producing a daily newspaper places enough demands, to do it enthusiastically every night while the future is in doubt shows a dedication way beyond the realms of duty. I can only say thank you.”

The paper’s redesign had seen it move towards more emphasis on horse racing – rather than the initial plan of being a general gambling newspaper.

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