The Sunday Mirror is looking for a new chief football writer following the decision of Paul Smith to join The Sun.
Smith, along with close friend and former News of the World chief football writer Rob Beasley, are expected eventually to be ring-fenced for the Sunday edition of the newly seven-day operation.
Smith’s departure comes just as Trinity Mirror – publishers of the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and The People – is looking to cut around 75 jobs. Sunday Mirror sports editor David Walker has been told he is able to recruit the best candidate to replace Smith.
Smith, who began his career more than 20 years ago as a reporter at Match, has a reputation for story-gathering and has been brought in to beef up The Sun‘s new edition, which was launched two weeks ago in such a rush that the Rob Shepherd’s back-page “exclusive” about Harry Redknapp being offered a new contract at Spurs was little different from a story written by Darren Lewis in the Daily Mirror several days earlier.
According to one Wapping insider, “We’re not allowed to call it ‘The Sun on Sunday’. It’s The Sun, it just comes out seven days a week, not six.
“It had been planned for an April or May launch, so six days’ notice was ludicrous. At present existing staff have to “volunteer” to work extra days while there’s a 90-day consultancy period with the union, but everybody is already knackered.”
Current sports staff – reporters and subs – are understood to be paid extra for any work they do for The Sun‘s Sunday edition, as the department struggles to cope with a six-day workforce.
There has also been a knock-on effect at rival Sunday papers, with reporters concerned about the dangers posed if a reporter from a seven-day title is allowed to attend briefings intended for Sunday newspapers as well as dailies.
Last week a Brad Friedel interview, given under embargo until Sunday, was printed in Saturday’s Sun, although this appears to have been an accident caused by the chaos of the extra edition.
UPCOMING SJA EVENTS
Mon Mar 12: SJA British Sports Journalism Awards in London. A gala dinner celebrating our colleagues work.
Mon Apr 16: SJA Spring Golf Day, Surbiton GC. Watch the SJA website for booking details.
Thu Apr 19: SJA Annual General Meeting, Fleet Street, 12.30pm. Click here for details.
Thu May 10: SJA Ladbrokes Lunch with former England cricket captain Alec Stewart. Booking details to be announced.