300,000 circulation Sport magazine set to close

By Steven Downes

Sport, the 300,000-circulation free weekly magazine, is to cease publication this week.

Sport’s cover last Friday, with a subliminal message in its coverlines?

The closure was confirmed on the magazine’s Twitter account on Friday. Charlie Sale’s Daily Mail column had reported that the title is “a casualty” of the takeover of the Wireless Group, the company which owns the magazine.

Last year, News UK, the owners of The Sun and The Times, paid £220million to acquire Wireless Group, who broadcast a stable of radio stations, including TalkSport.

According to reports in the trade press, the magazine closure is to allow the company to focus its investment on audio and digital brands.

It is not yet known whether the magazine’s staff, 13 in the ad sales and commercial department and nine sports journalists, led by editor Tony Hodson, will be offered other roles within the company.

The magazine, launched in 2006, has been very successful, at least in terms of distribution at railway stations across the country each Friday, using a guaranteed circulation business model similar to that used by the Evening Standard to help to drive its advertising revenues. Sport is the most-read sports magazine in the UK, with a circulation of 306,384.

Scott Taunton, the chief executive of Wireless Group, said: “Our thanks go to the editor Tony Hodson and his team who have made Sport magazine so popular with its readers. We look forward to them producing a cracking final issue.”

The statement from the magazine’s team, which appeared on Twitter, said, “We have some news, and we are very sorry to report it is sad news. Next week’s issue, number 484, will be the final issue of Sport.

“From the very first issue in September 2006, the team here – both editorial and commercial – have been proud to produce a magazine we always wanted to celebrate all that is special about sport. We love it and the aim was simply to share that passion with our readers.

‘I always thought my job was too good to be true somehow’

“Across more than 10 years and more than 480 issues, we hope we have done that. It has been a privilege and a joy from the first issue to the last, and we would like to thank everyone who has contributed in any way – from Thierry Henry, who graced our first cover all those years ago, to the many hardy distributors who have braved more than a few cold, wet and windy Friday mornings to deliver our labours of love into people’s hands.”

Features editor Sarah Shepherd also tweeted her thanks to colleagues and readers for their support, saying, “Having watched the magazine grow and evolve since 2006 I’m incredibly sad that it won’t get an opportunity to get even better.

“I always thought my job was too good to be true somehow.”

The final edition, out on Friday, will feature Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy on the cover, over a coverline which states, “The party’s over”.

And Sport’s usual strapline, “The weekend starts here”, has been graphically adjusted to mark the magazine’s closure.