Northcliffe to launch more football and rugby sites

Associated Northcliffe’s regional newspapers are out to tap in to football cash, a senior executive says, by launching 19 websites dedicated to football and rugby clubs covered by Northcliffe newspaper titles.

Online for the start of the new season, the sites will sit alongside the established Derby Evening Telegraph site for Derby County,, and the Leicester Mercury‘s for Leicester City.

The move follows the group’s transition to give each Northcliffe newspaper “local ownership” of their own “thisis” website, which had previously been managed centrally by teams in Derby and Exeter.

Robert Hardie, managing editor of Associated Northcliffe Digital Integrated Media, said all Premiership, Championship, League One and League Two clubs within Northcliffe’s circulation areas would be covered, along with the Guinness Premiership and Magners League. “The Rams and Blue Army have been phenomenally successful. In terms of generating traffic The Rams gets 2 million page views a month,” Hardie said.

“However, although we do sell advertising there is not a big profit and given the money that is in football, there should be.”

He added: “Nobody covers the clubs better than the Northcliffe titles, and while their relationships with them might not be perfect they are better than anybody else’s. They have access to the staff, players and fans that others don’t.

“We have done a lot of research and it is clear that fans always visit the official club site, no matter how good or bad it is, to see what the club is saying.

“They also look at the best unofficial site – to see what is happening that the club isn’t telling them – and our aim is to have the best unofficial site for each club.”

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