Tuesday, April 05, 2011

End of An Era

One of it's former editors, Tony Livesey, once said that if one person believed a story it printed then the story was worthwhile. Whether that be Lancaster bombers on the moon, Routemaster buses at the South Pole or Arsenal winning something after 2005 it mattered not how bizarre the headline if one punter believed it that was good enough.

The Daily Sport and Sunday Sport have suspended publication and will go into administration, their owner, Sport Media Group, has said. The announcement came after the group warned it had experienced "an insufficient recovery" since December. The Daily Sport was launched by David Sullivan in 1991, following on from the Sunday Sport, first published in 1986. If no buyer is found, the Sport will be the first UK national newspaper to close since the demise of News International's Today in November 1995.

The Daily Sport was relaunched in April 2008 under the editorship of Barry McIlheney and James Brown - the latter being the founder of Loaded magazine - with the stated aim of going from "sleazy" to "sexy". "If it is not about sport, if it is not about girls and does not make you laugh, then don't bother," Mr McIlheney said at the time, explaining his editorial policy.

In one of those stranger than truth moments the paper even let Lembit Opik write a weekly political column for the paper. Sport Media Group (SMG) said on its website that it had ceased trading because of its "inability to meet certain creditors as they fall due" and was in the process of appointing administrators. "The group suspended trading in its shares on Friday morning "pending clarification of its financial position".

It seems strange to think that a paper known primarily for daft headlines and topless women actually had a peak readership of just under 200,000 in 2005, the Sunday edition reached a high in the same year of 167,473. Back in 1991, during one of those Friday afternoon post-pub 'let's do bugger all for three hours' moments (remember pubs and Friday afternoons?) two female colleagues and myself wrote a letter to the Daily Sport with the hope that it would appear on one of their letter pages. It concerned a secretary in an accountancy firm who catches her boss with a female client having sex on his desk, of course it wasn't autobiographical since you ask, and we sent it off. I spent the next week popping into the local newsagents each afternoon and picking up the Daily Sport to see if our letter was published, this must have confused the owner since my usual paper of choice at the time was indeed The Times.

Anyway one day there it was, the letter from Julia (her real name by the way), it was the star letter. I handed over the appropriate cash, and believe me fiddling in your pocket for loose change whilst holding a copy of the Daily Sport is worse than incest in some communities, and headed over the road to the office. Well the letter was read and re-read, it was printed unedited which sort of made it all the more exciting (and childish) but it was a good laugh. As a sort of follow-up Julia cut the letter out of the paper, and much like the character in Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, she carried the letter around in her purse for years afterwards as if writing about office sex and getting it printed was something to impress the neighbours. Well over twenty years on it still makes me smile thinking about it, these days I suspect we would need a video camera to get such attention.


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