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Regional newspaper on the ball with football club scoop

A regional daily stayed ahead of the game as it broke the story of a top football appointment 36 hours ahead of official announcements.

The Lancashire Telegraph has been following the merry-go-round of rumours and interviews for the vacant manager’s job at Blackburn Rovers FC ever since Mark Hughes left.

In Saturday’s edition the Telegraph told readers of Paul Ince’s appointment even though it wasn’t confirmed until Sunday afternoon and yesterday’s edition it carried a back page splash and three inside news pages.

Andrew Neild, the Telegraph’s Rovers reporter, said: “We got a steer during the course of last week that if Ince got the green light from the Premier League then he would become number one choice and they would probably appoint him.

“He had to get special dispensation because he doesn’t have the coaching badges.

“It was a case of hammering the phones, speaking to as many people as possible, trying to piece together the story.

“A lot of the nationals were hedging their bets to an extent and even some of the Sundays were saying it wasn’t a foregone conclusion.”

The appointment of Paul Ince, the self-titled Guv’nor, carries wider historical significance.

The 40-year-old is the first black British manager to take charge of a Premiership club and is also stepping up from managing a club only just promoted from League Two.

Andrew added: “It’s a bold and brave appointment on a number of levels.

“It’s a big step forward and the club has courage to appoint someone from the lower leagues.”

Web editor Paul Cockerton said had seen a surge of activity and reader interaction throughout the managerial saga.

The website as a whole saw a 15 per cent boost in page impressions in the two weeks between Mark Hughes’ appointment at Manchester City and the Ince announcement.

One story alone has attracted more than 125 comments at the time of writing.

Paul added: “We published 48 stories specifically about the search for who will be next during that period which attracted 3,056 comments.

“We also ran two polls which together had 5,992 votes. On one or two days the page impressions doubled.

“I wouldn’t like to say if that was all down to the Rovers stories but it coincided with them.”