'Redundant' football writer takes website nationwide

A football correspondent who launched his own local football website after losing his job on a regional paper is planning to franchise his site to other journalists.

Rick Waghorn, who has continued to cover Norwich City FC on RickWaghorn.co.uk after being made redundant from the Norwich Evening News, intends to make his solo-publishing model available to other football correspondents.

The site, which Waghorn runs with a former Evening News ad sales executive, will be rebranded on 1 July as MyFootballWriter.com/Norwich.

Football correspondents in other areas will be able obtain a franchise.

“There are about 40 or 50 regional newspaper football writers who have covered clubs for years and have strong personal brands,” he said.

“If you go through all the provincial clubs in the country, they’ve all got one of me at their local morning or evening paper.”

Waghorn claims that the combined effect of ever-earlier print deadlines on evening newspapers and his use of mobile phone alerts has allowed him to compete effectively with his former employers.

Less than a year after launch, the two-man operation has achieved £3,000 a month in revenues, he says, primarily through advertising from local businesses.

By creating a national network of independent football writers, Waghorn hopes to attract larger national advertising campaigns.

Waghorn – who says he is seeking “a spot of venture funding” to back the site – revealed his plans last week at the London School of Economics during an event about independent online publishing sponsored by the journalism thinktank Polis.

“At one point we had a Dragons’ Den scenario where I thought people were going to start writing cheques,” Polis director Charlie Beckett remarked on his blog afterwards.

If successful, Waghorn’s franchising model could be expanded further to include other sports or specialist areas, with sites such as MyTravelWriter.

Waghorn took redundancy after 14 years with the Archant-owned Evening News last April. He launched his site later in 2006 with a senior Archant advertising executive, Kevin O’Gorman.

• The company behind the advertising technology that powers the Washington Post Blogroll, a network of bloggers who run advertisements in conjunction with Washington Post.com, is close to launching a similar product with a British newspaper.

Adify head of business development Rob Proctor told the Polis seminar his company was close to announcing such a venture with “a left-leaning national newspaper”.

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