NEWS: Guardian to publish sports tabloid in circulation drive

The Guardian is weighing into the current sports-based circulation war with the launch on Friday of Sport 96, a 24-page tabloid to be published weekly throughout the summer.

The Guardian is weighing into the current sports-based circulation war

with the launch on Friday of Sport 96, a 24-page tabloid to be published

weekly throughout the summer.



The launch follows the introduction this week of a regular eight-page

sports pull-out in the Monday Guardian.



All of the paper’s broadsheet rivals, the Daily Telegraph, the Times and

the Independent, have cut their cover price to 10p on Mondays. The

Telegraph and the Times are also running ads highlighting their sports

coverage. However, the Guardian will continue to charge 45p.



The Guardian’s initiative is likely to put the launch of the planned

sports daily, Sports First, under further pressure - it has already

delayed its launch once.



Also, last week the planned Sunday sports title, Soccer on Sunday,

delayed its launch until next year.



Bill Jones, the deputy chairman of MediaCom, is not confident that

either publication will appear. ‘I don’t think it makes a lot of sense

to pin all of your hopes on one specialist area,’ he said. ‘The past few

weeks have seen two ill-conceived launches, one of which has already

closed.’



Stephen Palmer, the marketing director of the Guardian, said Sport 96

will capitalise on people’s anticipation of sporting events at the

weekend. ‘Half of the thrill is the build-up - be it Wimbledon or the

Oly-mpics,’ he said. ‘Sport 96 is aimed at more than just the sports

fanatic - it will also target people whose imagination has been caught

by Euro 96 and those who want to follow events through the summer.’



Sport 96 will carry features, profiles and interviews by Guardian

writers, including Matthew Engel and David Lacey. It will be edited by

the paper’s media editor, John Mulholland.