NI cuts begin to bite on sports desks

Details are beginning to emerge of how sports desks at the four News International titles will be hit by the 65 job cuts ordered at the titles, with some very senior figures likely to go.

The News of the World sports department is set to lose at least four long-serving regulars, including sports news editor Mal Butler.

At the Sunday Times‘s Glasgow office, the deputy sports editor of the Scotland edition, Andrew Baillie, is one of four Scottish redundancies from the 20 cuts being made at the paper overall.

Sport at The Sun seems barely touched by the changes, although two subbing posts on the newspaper’s website are to go as a result of a merger with the newspaper’s production operation.

The cuts come after a prolonged study by the Boston Consulting Group. The announcement followed this month’s move across all four titles for a 10 per cent cut to freelance contributors’ payments.

Around 100 ad sales staff have already been made redundant at Wapping as a result of BCG recommendations, while the number of casual editorial staff has been radically reduced, with many online and newspaper desk tasks being merged.

At the News of the World – still the biggest selling English-language newspaper in the world – Butler is taking voluntary redundancy. He is to be joined in his departure by reporter Geoff Sweet and two graphics specialists. It is understood that there may have been other applications for voluntary redundancy terms from senior members of the sports staff, but sports editor Paul McCarthy blocked any further losses.

“I’m leaving after the best part of 23 years with NI, seven at Today and nearly 16 on the News of the World,” Butler told “I’m going voluntarily, I feel I need a break and the company have been very good to me.” Butler hopes to spend more time at his holiday home and is considering moving out of London permanently.

The Sunday Times cut-backs have, in the main, not affected sport, which had already lost long-serving Brian Doogan and Derek Clements from its staff. Baillie’s redundancy is something of a surprise, given the heavy production workload in the Glasgow office each Saturday.

Further job cuts are rumoured to be in negotiation, although football writer Jonathan Northcroft – targeted by the Sunday Telegraph to replace Paddy Barclay – is now understood to be staying at the Sunday Times.

More on sports desk job cuts:

65 jobs to go in Wapping purge

Listings mag calls time out on sports editor

All Herald staff made redundant

Mair and Knight leave Telegraph; Buckley goes from Obs

Express to cut more than 70 jobs

Brighton’s weekly sports paper to close

NUJ chapel protest at Independent‘s sports cuts

Click here for a listing of local newspaper closures in 2008

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