Figures released this week show the Evening Chronicle sold some 30,000 extra copies in the days surrounding footballer Michael Owen’s transfer to Newcastle United.
The England star was front-page news with the headline “He’s Ours”.
Fans gathering at St James’ Park were met with Chronicle sellers and the paper was being snapped up all around town.
He was on the front page the following day with the Chronicle carrying the first picture of him in a United shirt under the headline “Welcome” with editions being updated throughout the day to bring his press conference, attended by over 15,000 fans, to its readers.
It resulted in the paper’s front and back pages appearing on every news bulletin while chief sports writer Alan Oliver was interviewed for countless TV and radio stations from Skysports to Radio Iraq.
The paper followed up with the first one-to-one interview with the star, a picture special on the day he signed, a free glossy poster and a competition for one lucky reader to be the mascot at Owen’s debut against Fulham.
Editor Paul Robertson said: “It was an amazing team effort. We couldn’t print the paper fast enough.
“Alan’s contacts proved invaluable and we were able to get the story out on the streets early. As well as a sense of excitement, there was also disbelief and fans were looking to the Chronicle to prove they were not just dreaming.
“Our writers and photographers captured the mood while our newspaper sales team made sure we kept outlets supplied to keep up with demand.”
The circulation boost came just days after the latest ABC figures showed the Chronicle to be one of the top-performing evening newspapers in the UK, increasing its circulation between January and June this year. It now sells 91,703 (ABC, Mon to Fri).