Regional sports journalists have been offered double their current pay to join a new subscription-based football website, it has been claimed.
The i has reported “amazing” salaries have been offered to potential recruits by US-based sports website The Athletic, which is launching a UK version in time for the start of the new Premier League football season.
HTFP has previously reported how a clutch of sports journalists currently working on regional dailies have left their roles this summer to take up new posts with the site.
The Leicester Mercury’s Leicester City reporter Rob Tanner, Birmingham Mail Aston Villa reporter Gregg Evans and The Argus Brighton and Hove Albion reporter Andy Naylor are also expected to join the project, having announced their departures while tweeting that they would continue to cover their respective clubs.
HTFP understands that one of the regional recruits to The Athletic has gone from a salary of £37,000 to £74,000.
One unnamed newspaper executive, who says he has been “forced to make counter offers to retain staff”, told the i: “The offers have been amazing: massive double-your-money salaries with sign-on bonuses of 10 grand and equity in the company, the works.”
An unnamed writer who has been approached by The Athletic told the i: “It’s the biggest shake-up in sports journalism since the digital era. There has probably been more movement in the last four months than in the last 15 years.”
It has been claimed the 55-strong UK team could amount to an annual cost of around £4m, which would equate to 100,000 subscriptions.
The i says the recruitment drive is being overseen by former Independent sports editor Ed Malyon, based at The Athletic’s headquarters in Chicago.
According to the newspaper, the newly-recruited British writers will shortly be heading to the US for training.
A spokesperson for the Sports Journalists’ Association told HTFP: “It’s a development which we are watching with great interest and we wish it all the best.”
HTFP has approached The Athletic for a comment on the i’s claims.
A spokesman previously said: “At this time, I can tell you that we are building a line-up of the most talented and connected football journalists across the UK but we will wait to unveil the team until we launch.”