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Daily launches new paid-for title in bid to sustain lower league football coverage

MikeBaggaleyA regional daily has launched a new paid-for online title in a bid to sustain its coverage of lower league football.

Stoke-on-Trent daily The Sentinel has announced the launch of digital newsletter The Valiant, aimed at fans of Burslem-based football club Port Vale.

Readers who want to receive the newsletter, which will be hosted on the advertisement-free Substack platform, will be able to do so for an initial annual £10 subscription fee.

The Valiant’s launch has also prompted the return of previous Port Vale reporter Mike Baggaley, pictured, who left The Sentinel in May after 24 years to cover Wolverhampton Wanderers for its Reach plc sister title the Birmingham Mail.

In a piece announcing the launch, the paper said the decision to introduce the paywall came because coverage of “smaller” clubs like Vale is unable to “generate millions of page views a year, and with that the ad revenue that pays for the journalism” in the same way that stories about clubs such as Liverpool and Manchester United can.

The Valiant was officially launched at a Fans Forum hosted by The Sentinel last week.

Editor Marc Waddington told HTFP: “It was great to go and meet the fans at the Fans Forum, and get the chance to explain what we were doing.

“We were made to feel very welcome and I think people really understand what we are doing and why, The support so far, from fans and also from the club itself, has been fantastic.

“I think there’s a real opportunity here to find a sustainable way to deliver the highest quality content direct to fans.

“We believe this is a highly effective model for where the audience potential may be smaller than with huge clubs, but where the interest and engagement of fans is just as strong.”

Discussing his return, Mike said: “I’m delighted to be back covering the Vale. I was really enjoying the Wolves job but I’d have been kicking myself if I hadn’t taken this opportunity.

“The chance to spend all my week reporting on Vale, writing in depth about the club on a platform that is advert-free, was just too good to turn down.

“My job is to make The Valiant as appealing as possible to supporters with news, opinion, interviews and a view behind the scenes of this great club. I can’t wait to get started.”