By Steven Downes
Just four months after the League Paper and the Non-League Paper were merged and re-launched in an attempt to salvage a viable future for the financially troubled weekly publications, the business is undergoing another upheaval, with the Football Paper publishing its last issue last week.
David Emery, the titles’ founder, has now bought the company back and has undertaken to meet all outstanding obligations to contributing journalists as he plans to publish the Non-League Paper as a standalone product from tomorrow.
The development comes barely four months after a new owner, businessman and former PA executive, Simon Burrell, who runs the Entertainment and Sports Agency, set up a new company, BHT Media, to buy the titles after they had gone into administration last July.
The salvage package saved at least 10 jobs on the papers. But Burrell pulled the plug last week.
According to Emery:
“Unfortunately adverse trading conditions in the core business of our main backer prevented him from continuing with his funding commitment. Consequently, the company has been sold to me with a legal undertaking that all outstanding liabilities will be paid.
“In other words, all journalists with outstanding invoices will receive their money.”
The threat of closure last summer was believed to leave several freelancers, and Emery, out of pocket by thousands of pounds after what Emery called “an elaborate financial swindleâ€ that had left a “huge hole” in the business’s finances and prompting the possibility of a police investigation.
Last year was the second time the paper had gone into administration. Previously, in 2002, it was again due to “financial irregularities”, when Â£272,000 went missing from the company finances.
But despite the rocky business history, Emery is undeterred.
“It is almost seven years to the day since I launched The Non-League Paper, so from my point of view, football’s coming home.”