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From titillation to administration

Daily Sport goes bust, Simon Binns asks why

Written by . Published on April 5th 2011.

From titillation to administration

The Sport Newspaper Group went into administration on Friday. Yesterday, Manchester staff were back in the office to sign redundancy papers.

Talk about a wet weekend.

In this day and age, finding images of near-naked ladies is easy. Teenage boys don’t have to buy a copy of the Sport to see bare bosoms; they just have to use their smartphone or laptop to get online, where a whole galaxy of free filth awaits.’

Irrespective of your feelings about the Daily Sport and Sunday Sport, they were a Manchester-based firm and an employer of people living in the city. It’s end of an era.The title has been responsible for some memorable headlines over the years (‘WW2 Bomber Found on the Moon’ et al) but its real USP, back in the good old days, was naughtiness and nudity.

Pictures of busty topless models littered every page. It was a pre-pubescent boy’s dream; a step up from the GUS catalogue. It was saucy, but accessible. No top shelf shame here – just a quick trip to the newspaper stand.

In this day and age, however, finding images of near-naked ladies is easy. Teenage boys don’t have to buy a copy of the Sport to see bare bosoms; they just have to use their smartphone or laptop to get online, where a whole galaxy of free filth awaits.

David Sullivan, now in his second spell as publisher of The Sport, is a pornographer by trade but there are limits to what you can put in a newspaper against a specialist magazine, DVD or website. As one sector was boosted by the rise of online, so another has been severely dented.

The paper’s creative editorial has been left in the shade by the likes of Viz for sheer surrealism and has never quite been the same since Tony Livesey left as editor.

There are rumblings coming out of Sport Towers that suggest the tipping point came when rival publisher Richard Desmond – who also made his money in the porn industry - called in a loan the group was unable to pay. If the Sport were to go down, it’s logical to suggest that his paper, The Star, would become their natural home. They even ran a banner over the weekend saying that Sport readers were welcome.

What we do know is that April was the final month of a payment holiday on a £50,000 per month loan owed to the Royal Bank of Scotland and falling advert sales never really picked up at the end of last year or the start of this.

Four years ago, looking to boost flagging readerships figures, the Sport brought in a number of high-profile – and expensive – consultants for fresh new ideas. James Brown, the former editor of lads’ mag Loaded, was rumoured to be on a four figure fee PER DAY in order to stem the flow of readers leaving the title.

It didn’t work.

David Sullivan’s return to the Sport has not been one to cheer. The group made much of its new direction – digital content. Sadly, the distance between the Sport and their competitors was too wide.

Will we miss the Sport? Not many feminists will.

But it was a Manchester institution – in a city which has always done popularism well - but one that failed to adapt to the changing market, like putting Carry on Camping up against CGI-laden Transformers at the local multiplex. Like Barbara Windsor versus Megan Fox.

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AnonymousApril 5th 2011.

Adapt or die!

Perhaps they should have diversified into property and used car sales to raise cash. That's what the Guardian does to survive. Its parent company loses money hand over fist by publishing that newspaper.

Clever folkApril 7th 2011.

We bemoan the sudden loss of the daily sunday sports thingy.

Nonetheless, Britain remains the only country IN THE WORLD with five+ tabloids at the newsagent's. What does that tell you about its population?

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