Tomas, Butler and Hamilton go as Obs re-launches

The world’s oldest Sunday newspaper, The Observer, re-launched today with an expensive television advertising campaign and the promise of an expanded sports section. But three long-established bylines will in future be missing from its pages.

Jason Tomas, Eddie Butler and Maurice Hamilton, who have all worked in their specialisms for the paper for a decade and more, are leaving the sports desk.

Tomas, a prolific author of football books, had written the round-up for the Sunday Times and then the Obs for the past quarter century. His last day in the Observer office was last Saturday.

Former Wales and Lions international rugby captain Butler has worked for the paper since 1991. The BBC television rugby commentator is among the Guardian News and Media journalists taking voluntary redundancy, as the business seeks to stem losses running at £100,000 per day.

Hamilton has covered F1 since 1973, his outstanding contacts in motor sport seeing him also work as an expert summariser for BBC Radio. His rolling contract has not been renewed, on the eve of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button – two SJA Sportsmen of the Year and F1 world champions – are about to embark on a new season as McLaren team mates.

Last year, the news that Button was to join McLaren might have been been an exclusive for the loss-making Guardian, but the Alan Henry news story and Hamilton’s comment piece were first published on the newspaper’s website, allowing the rest of Fleet Street and the BBC to follow-up.

The Observer re-design and re-launch has also seen the closure of the acclaimed Observer Sport Monthly. The re-launch comes after Guardian News and Media decided last year not to close The Observer.

More on sports desk job cuts:

Bierley latest to leave Guardian sports desk

Map of UK media job cuts in 2009

McKenley and Smith to leave Standard sports desk

Another 70 jobs under the axe at Express group

Rugby writer Roche is latest Sun casualty

Cox and Cheers leave Guardian sport

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