The Guardian Media website is reporting that SJA member Harry Harris, pictured right, one of the country’s leading sports journalists, is in negotiations to leave the Daily Express.
The report describes Harris as “one of the country’s best-paid sports journalists” and states that he has not written for the Daily Express since August 22.
Harris’s absence from the newspaper is highly unusual in a key period at the beginning of the football season, including the last week of the summer transfer window, offering exactly the sort of stories upon which Harris, the only reporter to have twice won the SJA Sports Story of the Year award, has made his reputation.
This year, Harris has broken the story of Kevin Keegan’s managerial return to Newcastle and Sven Goran Eriksson’s sacking at Manchester City, as well as first reporting Real Madrid’s bid to sign Cristiano Ronaldo.
There is speculation that the departure of the group chief football writer is linked with another round of cost-cutting at the Express. Neither the newspaper’s Editor, Peter Hill, nor Harris – a former Daily Mirror, Daily Mail and London Evening News staffer – were quoted in the website article.
Harris, who is also twice the winner of the SJA’s Sports Reporter of the Year award, was unable to comment when contacted by sportsjournalists.co.uk.
In 2002, Harris caused a stir when he left the Mirror for the Express on a salary that was reported to be in the region of Â£300,000.
The Guardian report says:
In February, Daily Express publisher Express Newspapers paid substantial damages to football agent Willie McKay over an article by Harris that claimed the agent had been involved in transfer fraud.
Express Newspapers and Harris accepted that the allegations were untrue, apologised and agreed to pay McKay substantial damages and his legal costs.
The report links Harris, a regular expert interviewee in documentary coverage of football, to more broadcasting work, books and possibly some further work for the Express.