The publisher of the Sunday and Daily Sport has signalled its intention to take the titles into lads’ mag territory by appointing former Emap man Barry McIlheney as editor-in-chief of the two publications.
McIlheney joins Sport Newspapers after 21 years at Emap, five of those as managing editor of Emap Metro, which publishes music monthlies Q and Mojo and men’s lifestyle monthly FHM.
Last November, Sport Media Group appointed Loaded founder James Brown as the papers’ consultant editor-in-chief, with the aim of giving the titles a lads’ mag appeal.
McIlheney, who headed up the launch of lads’ weekly Zoo, said: ‘With the success of men’s monthly and weekly magazines, it is only a matter of time before we have the first men’s daily. I am delighted to have the opportunity to deliver this with the Sport.
‘As the rest of the newspaper market increasingly targets women and older readers, this is real chance to produce a modern British tabloid for modern British blokes.
‘Any man interested in sport, women, and having a laugh – and in my experience there are quite a few of them – now at last has a national daily newspaper he can be proud of.”
McIlheney joined Emap in 1986 from IPC’s Melody Maker, taking on the role of editor on Emap’s now defunct pop weekly Smash Hits. In 1989, he launched film monthly Empire, where he was editor for three years.
In 1994, McIlheney became managing director of Emap Metro, and after the launch of lads’ weekly Zoo in 2004 and the subsequent launch of the title in Australia and South Africa, he became a part-time consultant in 2007, chairing the judging of Emap’s annual editorial awards.
Last August, Sport co-founder David Sullivan sold Sport Newspapers to Interactive World for £50m.
In recent years, both of the Manchester-based Sport titles have been rapidly losing sales.
The Sunday Sport has dropped from selling more than 200,000 copies in 2000 to 86,069 in December last year.
James Brown said: ‘Attracting someone of the calibre of Barry to the Sport is a great coup and will allow us to continue to the build the paper as a vehicle to reach young men on a daily basis.
‘He has almost unparalleled success in magazine editing and launches, combined with a career which started in newspapers and music papers. His titles have been highly successful and we are confident that Barry can replicate this success at the Sport.
‘His publications have been built around harnessing the disciplines of great tabloids into a glossy format and he will be bringing the devices, attitude and confidence of these successes into the Sport titles.