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Dailies move to replace football writers after Athletic departures

Jordan BlackwellA regional publisher has unveiled new football correspondents to cover rival clubs after their predecessors left their posts to join The Athletic.

Rob Tanner, who covered Leicester City for the Leicester Mercury, and Paul Taylor, who covered Nottingham Forest for the Nottingham Post, were two of the dozen regional journalists to join the specialist sports news website’s new UK operation, which was officially launched on Monday.

Reach plc, owner of the Mercury and the Post, has now moved to replace Rob and Paul as the new season gets under way.

Jordan Blackwell, pictured, will serve as the new Leicester City correspondent for the Mercury and its Leicestershire Live sister website, while Sarah Clapson will take on the equivalent role with the Post and Nottinghamshire Live covering Forest.

Jon Birchall, Editor (Football) for Reach Regionals said: “We’re delighted to have Sarah and Jordan driving our coverage of two huge footballing institutions in the East Midlands.

“Sarah has already built a fantastic rapport with Forest supporters as evidenced by her weekly Q&As with fans and in Jordan we have a superbly talented journalist who cares deeply about Leicester. I wish them both the best of luck in their new roles.”

Both Sarah and Jordan have been promoted from existing roles which have seen them cover the East Midlands clubs for their respective titles.

City’s Premier League season begins with a home game against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday, while Forest succumbed to a 2-1 defeat against West Bromwich Albion in their opening match of the Championship season on Saturday.

They face Leeds United this coming Saturday.


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  • August 7, 2019 at 1:33 pm

    One of the keys to how the main publishers recover from losing their best football writers and keeping the audience they’ve built up is with who they replace them with.

    It doesn’t necessarily stack up that the number two should automatically take the role.There are some excellent writers out there who know their stuff, would be more than capable of filling the vacancies and no doubt love the chance to show what they can do, so I hope the chiefs consider all options other than the safe and lazy route of simply moving the deputy up,sometimes a deputy is a deputy for a reason,handy to have on the subs bench but not always the best person for the job and not always capable of upping their game to the main role,a risky and damaging strategy if it doesn’t come off.

    The tranche of top regional football writers defecting to the Athletic must be the ideal opportunity for the chiefs to look at their whole (sporting) operation,review and consider everything and plan the best way forward, if not its another golden opportunity missed.

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  • August 7, 2019 at 1:37 pm

    I still don’t understand how these journalists have all been allowed to move and immediately do essentially the same role, taking their respective audiences with them.

    For instance, Paul Taylor has 36,000 Twitter followers, and the guy covering Leeds three times that.

    Contracts used to state you couldn’t work for a direct competitor for six months of leaving. Is this something consigned to history?

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  • August 7, 2019 at 3:37 pm

    An interesting point Williams M but one you can be sure would have been covered legally prior to job offers being made.

    I do know there’s some worried people not a million miles from me, not saying it out loud but privately very concerned at the possible and very likely loss of even more readers and online site visitors due to the popularity of the departing football journalist to The Athletic.
    As has been mentioned previously, getting the best person in to take over the vacated role will be vital as club supporters will know weak content when they see it and will know when they’re being sold short and won’t be slow to mention it.

    With the PL kicking off this week it will be interesting to see how good or otherwise the reporting,comment and analysis from the local daily is now they have a real competitor on their hands and having lost their best people to the opposition.

    Interesting times ahead.

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  • August 13, 2019 at 3:04 pm

    I confess I haven’t been following this too closely so presume The Athletic is paying more… something the regional papers could have tried to match if they wanted to keep their best people. Instead, I suspect it will have been viewed as a chance to pay their successor less!

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