Web war in Norfolk, while League Paper re-launches

A footballing web war looks set to break out in East Anglia, as Archant Norfolk has scrapped its traditional Pink ‘Un Saturday edition to concentrate resources on its online results service, which goes head-to-head with a specialist Norwich City website set up by the former football correspondent of the Norwich Evening News.

Saturday evening supplements have been closing with sad regularity in recent times, unable to keep up with the tsunami of information available to sports fans via radio, television and online.

Some outside the larger media groups saw the way new media was developing. Rick Waghorn used his redundancy money more than two years ago to establish, a model which he has rolled out for other hyper-local websites, written by specialists on their local clubs.

Archant Norfolk’s latest move appears in some way to be a response to Waghorn’s success, and an acknowledgement that web-based sports news is far more acceptable to most fans.

Archant says effort will be concentrated on the paper’s website in what it is calling a “hugely exciting time” for the sportsdesk. The site will offer live coverage of Norwich City’s matches, with the chance for fans to chat with reporters at games. The site will offer podcasts and writer Chris Lakey will offer video news reports from Carrow Road (though how Lakey handles the season-opening 7-1 drubbing at home against Colchester, though, may prove to be a challenge).

A 12-page printed football supplement will be available in the Eastern Daily Press each Monday.

Last season, Archant Suffolk scrapped its Green ‘Un to concentrate on its equivalent website focused on Ipswich Town. The Ipswich Evening Star, for now, continues to publish its Green ‘Un.

□ The League Paper, from the same stable as the Non-League Paper and The Rugby Paper, has been re-launched today as a £1.50, 48-page colour tabloid.

Edited by David Emery, the former Daily Express sports editor, and staffed by his son, Sam Emery, together with news editor John Lyons and reporter Chris Dunlavy, the title will source much of its live Saturday reports through the Sportsbeat agency.

Emery and his team is confident that there will be considerable demand for his weekly title’s non-Premiership focus, and that it will be boosted by the BBC’s new deal to televise the Football League. They point to Football League attendance figures last season which outstripped Italy’s Serie A.

The League Paper, or its equivalent The Football Paper, has had a chequered history. In July 2006, it folded due to the loss of promised investment, with Emery and many contributors being left out of pocket. At the time, Emery described the title’s demise as the result of “an elaborate financial swindle” that had left a “huge hole” in the business’s finances and prompting the possibility of a police investigation. No criminal action arose.

The paper also went under in 2002, again due to “financial irregularities”, when £272,000 went missing from the company finances, leaving contributors unpaid for their work.

The League Paper was extremely well received the last time it was published,” David Emery said.

“We hope those readers and a host of new ones will enjoy it this time. It is a newspaper for the fans and focusing on their special clubs.”

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