Sportsman’s future on the brink

The Sportsman betting newspaper raised more than £11 million for its launch in March this year, but four months later it had accumulated debts of nearly £4m, and now is teetering on the brink of survival, with no one ready to buy the title.

The paper employs around 90 journalists and uses some 60 freelancers.

Administrators from UHY Hacker Young will tell a special creditors’ meeting today in central London that there are “no significant offers”, according to a report on Guardian Unlimited. The administrators said there was “sufficient cash and trading revenue to trade the business in the short term while trying to sell it”.

Joint administrator Peter Kubik wrote in a creditors’ letter: “Whilst I have been in negotiation with the company’s shareholders with regards to selling the business and am confident that a sale of the business will be completed shortly, I have advertised the business for sale in the Sunday Times.

“I would report that I have received a few enquiries for the business but no significant offers have been tabled.

“Shareholders have promised to inject further working capital to enable the business to continue to trade whilst the negotiation for the sale of the business is concluded.”

The joint administrators were appointed on July 20. The paper’s Sunday edition – The Sportsman‘s second-best seller of the week – was axed and a handful of redundancies were made. The paper has recently been refocused on more traditional betting coverage of horse racing and greyhounds, rather than the broader, all-sports approach favoured by its founders.

While The Sportsman no longer has its circulation independently audited, the administrator reported an increase in sales. Its circulation hit a low of less than 13,000 copies in May, against a break-even target of 40,000 a day.

Read our previous reports on The Sportsman here.

Read the full Guardian report here