Media Lifeline: Sport Newspapers

Sport Media Group has to work quickly to rescue its daily and Sunday titles.

April 2008: The Daily Sport, originally launched in 1991 by the porn baron David Sullivan as a daily gossip and celebrity "newspaper", had been acquired by Sport Newspapers Group in 2007. The company brought in Barry McIlheney, a former managing director of Emap Metro, and James Brown, the founder of Loaded, and in April, the paper is relaunched as something closer to a daily lads' mag.

July 2008: Circulation had been slipping (from 200,000 in 2000, to 85,000 before relaunch). It records an ABC figure of 82,920 in June. Brown is no longer a consultant and McIlheney becomes the group editorial chief. The new editor is Murray Morse.

January 2009: But now wave upon wave of troubles sweep in on an almost daily basis. The group reveals that it is in danger of breaching its banking covenants; then it reveals an £18.1 million loss in its full financial year; which in turn triggers a slide in its share price; leading to its auditors announcing that it has major doubts about whether the company can continue as a going concern.

February 2009: So it's not surprising when Sport Media Group announces it has put itself up for sale after receiving "several unsolicited approaches". With the Daily Sport's circulation at 75,000, McIlheney announces he is looking at new opportunities.

March 2009: Now the Daily Sport and its sister Sunday Sport, still up for sale, are pulled from the Audit Bureau of Circulations in a bid, presumably, to stop their value as going concerns sliding still further. Sport Media Group had paid £50 million for them in 2007 - now the market estimate of their combined worth is somewhere around £18 million.

Fast forward ...

1 April 2009: But miracles really do happen - Sport Media Group management can hardly believe their eyes when they read a report in The Guardian stating that a consortium including Conrad Black, Lord Lucan (who has indeed been stacking Tesco shelves all these years) and the Indian media mogul Hurree Jamset Ram Singh intend to pay top dollar for the Sport titles and relaunch them as upmarket tabloids targeting Telegraph readers.

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