A weekly regional newspaper that beat a Football Association attempt to hush up a story about a player being punished for abusing an opponent with a sectarian comment has launched an online magazine aimed at supporters of the offender’s club.
Rotherham United player Kirk Broadfoot, a Scottish-born Protestant, received a 10-match FA ban for sectarian comments made to Wigan Athletic’s James McClean, an Irish-born Catholic.
The unannounced ban kicked in during last month’s pre-season friendlies, and when Tom Sharpe, the Rotherham Advertiser‘s football reporter, noticed Broadfoot’s absence, he asked the club for an explanation. Rotherham United refused to comment, while the FA cited a “strict confidentiality agreement”.
Advertiser editor Andrew Mosley told holdthefrontpage.co.uk: “We tried to push them, even bringing up the point that not revealing the information when they run a prominent Kick it Out anti-racism campaign doesn’t look good.”
Only when an online version of the story alerted the national media did the FA feel able to corroborate the ban because it was then in the public domain.
“Fans’ forums went mad – especially in Scotland – and it provoked plenty of debate, particularly with it being the longest ever ban for a verbal offence,” Mosley said.
“I think it proved that good old-fashioned journalism can win out and you can still have a genuine exclusive, even if the nationals can nick it hours later without any acknowledgement.
“It also proves that it’s worth taking a risk when certain organisations are trying to prevent you from carrying a story.”
Now the Advertiser has produced the first edition of The Match, an online magazine to cover Rotherham United. The print edition of the paper is also changing the way it reports on the club.
The Match, which goes online every Monday, includes a report of the weekend’s match together with photographs, statistics and video and audio clips. There will also be links to the paper’s other social media outlets and to Rotherham United’s website. The idea, which has been in development since last season, is the brainchild of sports editor Paul Rickett.
Editor Mosley said that given that most supporters would have by then read the detail of what happened six days earlier, the Advertiser‘s print edition, which comes out on Fridays, will now reduce the length of its match reports.
Of The Match he said: “Advertising has been sold around it, which has meant we haven’t had to charge a subscription fee to make it pay, and on a weekly basis it won’t increase the workload by a great amount as it will reduce content surrounding the match in Friday’s paper, which we will use for analysis and looking ahead to the next game.
“Hopefully the combination will mean we attract some younger readers while increasing our offering to those who prefer to buy a copy of the paper.”
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