The Athletic is up and running in the UK. The American digital sports subscription publishers launched today in a blizzard of stories, tweets and articles.
Editor-in-chief Alex Kay-Jelski (left) and Ed Malyon, managing director of The Athletic, UK penned welcome messages.
Kay-Jelski, former sports editor of The Times, has recruited around 55 reporters who will provide in-depth coverage of football. Many of those appointed have come from regionals so already have a connection with club and supporters.
He has also signed up award-winning writers like Daniel Taylor, from The Guardian, and Oliver Kay from The Times as well as other big names like Amy Lawrence, David Ornstein and George Caulkin.
The Athletic offer a heavily-discounted first year subscription which works out at £2.50 a month. The site’s American content is included. There will be no advertising and no clickbait.
Malyon, former sports editor of The Independent, wrote: “By adopting a different business model, The Athletic can change what readers expect from sports coverage.
“I hate the price comparison with coffee so let’s just say it is half a kebab. Or a Diet Coke at an airport. It’s 8p a day. To read the best sports writing outlet anywhere.”
The Athletic started three years ago, concentrating on a city-by-city expansion of American sports. The company offered enhanced salaries and share options to sports journalists who were experts in their field and have worked on the same basis in the UK.
The question is whether the US model can attract sufficient subscribers from the UK. Kay-Jelski is so convinced he left The Times. His second in command, Laura Williamson (below right), was the executive sports news editor on the Daily Mail.
Kay-Jelski wrote: “Imagine a new football department, they said. Imagine hiring some of the best journalists in the country.
“Imagine having the time and resource to plan and execute in-depth articles in a world where West Bromwich Albion matter just as much as Manchester United, where the inside story at Burnley is put together with the same passion as the lowdown on the latest managerial change at Chelsea.
“Imagine ignoring the world of sensationalism and trying to share better – and untold – stories. Trying to stand out in the clickbait crowd.
“No, this is not a bad reworking of a John Lennon song. It’s The Athletic UK and from today we are bringing our journalism to you. We’ve put a lot of love, effort and care into it to even get to Day One so I hope you enjoy it.”
The site today offered exclusive interviews with Liverpool chairman Tom Werner, Dortmund’s Mario Gotze and Leicester’s new signing Ayoze Perez.
Spokesman Taylor Patterson said: “We are delighted by the brilliant response and instant deluge of subscribers, but the most satisfying part of it all has been their reception to our content today.
“Our writers have been working hard to provide brilliant stories for our first week and they delivered in incredible fashion. We are thrilled.”