A freelance sports writer who has worked for a Scottish Sunday title for 12 years has announced his resignation online, saying he feared he would be axed from the title.
Award-winning journalist Bryan Cooney has written regular articles for the Sunday Herald but quit the title in a blog post, believing he was becoming too expensive for the paper and could be dropped.
He claimed that the paper’s sports budget had been cut and his initial brief of two or three interviews a month when he started had gone down to one story every four or five weeks this year.
Bryan, who was head of sport at the Daily Mail until taking early retirement in 2001, has now launched a new interview and discussion website, No Grey Areas, with fellow freelance sportswriter Jim Black.
In a blog post on his new website, Bryan wrote: “The newspaper game in which I’ve participated for half a century has been declared a bogey. I’ve decided to leave the Sunday Herald – and thus pre-empt its sacking me.
“I had been writing for the paper on a regular freelance basis for twelve years. So, when there seemed little appetite for my contributions, I was immediately alerted.”
Bryan wrote that he had spoken to a friend who works for Newsquest, who claimed the sport budgets had been cut to a quarter of their 2011 levels, meaning his £450 fee would account for more than 50pc of an edition’s resources.
Added Bryan: “I outlined my fears in an email to the sports editor, Jonathan Jobson. Back came a scarcely encouraging response.
“He more or less suggested that I was too expensive to maintain, stressed that he’d be very sad to lose me but would always be happy to run occasional pieces. The mention of the word ‘occasional’ encouraged a cynical smile.
“My initial brief back in 2001 had been for two, sometimes three, interviews a month. By the turn of this year, it was running at approximately one every four or five weeks. Now we were exploring new territory. Were biannual interviews being contemplated, perhaps?
“For once in an admittedly rather turbulent life, I played the responsible card and explained, again in an email, that I had a duty to consider my options.
“Back at my list of options, I quickly concluded that I’d never write another word for the Sunday Herald. Nay, not even if they suddenly discovered extravagance and gave me the kind of dosh that would enable Wayne Rooney to buy the missus another designer handbag.
“So, as Duncan Bannatyne of the Dragons Den might say, “I’m out”. Before I’m kicked out, of course. I acknowledge the rules: no sympathy will be, or deserves to be, distributed my way.
Bryan said, despite being 68-year-old and suffering from prostate cancer and a heart condition, he did not intend to retire and would instead focus on his new website.
The Herald and Times Group had not responded to requests for a comment at the time of publication.