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December 19, 2018updated 30 Sep 2022 7:16am

Regional football writers to merge into one team in ‘major restructure’ at Reach creating 16 new jobs

By Freddy Mayhew

Reach, publisher of the Manchester Evening News, will merge its regional and club football writers into one team as part of a “major investment and restructure” that it claims will create 16 new jobs.

The Football Project will create new roles in Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle, the East Midlands and West Midlands, as well as on its website football.london which covers the capital.

Regional and club-specific writers will come together “to work as one team for the first time”, Reach has said.

This “strengthened team” will enable the publisher to provide “more diverse coverage” for its 40 regional websites from 1 January 2019, including football news, opinion, scouting analysis and Esports trends.

As well as the MEN, Reach also publishes regional dailies the Liverpool Echo, Birmingham Mail, Derby Telegraph, Leicester Mercury and the Nottingham Post, among others.

Head of digital sport, Jonathan Birchall, will lead the new team as editor and will be responsible for delivering the project, developing content and growing audiences.

Birchall said: “I believe that our regional teams deliver the best football journalism in the market today.

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“Coupling our unrivalled local insight with the scale of a nationwide network will ensure we become even better at giving fans content they love about the teams they passionately support.”

David Higgerson, chief audience officer at Reach, said: “We have come a long way in terms of football coverage online in recent years and we believe there is an opportunity to reach even more people, and engage with those who already visit, more frequently.

“I’m delighted Jon has agreed to take on this new role. The Football Project is about making the most of our local connections, and improving what we do by providing a wider range of football-related stories to readers.”

Reach has previously faced criticism over its regional football coverage, with reporters sometimes not attending local matches.

Also joining the Football Project team are:

  • Tom Marshall-Bailey as publishing editor (football)
  • Bristol head of sport Aidan McCartney as wire editor
  • Liverpool Echo sports audience editor Kristian Walsh as content editor (group sport)
  • Josh Williams and David Hughes as football scouting writers
  • Nathan Bliss as the new Esports and gaming writer
  • Christopher Doyle and Connor O’Neill as UK football writers attached to Belfast Live.

Alan Edmunds, editorial director for Reach Regionals, said: “Innovation, which is key to our future success, will be at the heart of this project.

“Jon and Tom are brilliantly placed to ensure the great ideas generated across our sports teams are shined and shared.”

Reach also publishes the Mirror, Express and Star national newspaper titles.

Picture: Reuters/Andrew Boyers

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