Is It The End For ‘The Golf Paper’ ?

22nd February 2017

I was saddened to read today that The Golf Paper will not be returning in 2017.

The newspaper was due to return on 29th March 2017 from it’s latest winter break.

Greenways Publishing have clearly decided that this title is no longer financially viable for them. I assume after nearly two years they have simply concluded that it will not be possible to generate sufficient subscriber and advertising incomes to cover production and printing costs.

The concerns I expressed in October 2015 (see below) were around what I considered to be unethical practices. Back then it was the advertising for and taking of subscriptions from the public just before Greenways announced the paper would not be published for five months between November and April 2015.

Whilst I appreciate the disconnect between owners and staff and the need for a ‘business as usual’ approach I note that The Golf Paper were still touting for new subscribers on Twitter as recently as 11th February 2017. In my opinion senior management must have known the future of the paper was in some doubt as early as October 2016 – when last year’s run came to an end. Therefore such behaviour still sits a little uncomfortably with me.

I raised this on twitter tonight. I was therefore pleased to see the paper’s Editor Alex Narey call me out to say clearly that all subscribers will be refunded.

In passing I am not sure what facts Mr. Narey wants me to check. As I see it the paper is not being published again and was clearly advertising for subscribers up until very recently. It remains to be seen if all subscribers are reimbursed in full.

ME.

_________________________________________________

16th October 2015

UPDATE

David Emery of Greenways Publishing today gave me the following re-assurance re. the future of ‘The Golf Paper’. His e-mailed response is repeated in full below: –

“I’d like to allay Mark Eley’s fears re. The Golf Paper while at the same time thanking him for his kind remarks about the product.

It was always the intention of Greenways Publishing to give The Golf Paper a winter break through December to early April when the sport hits a distinctly quiet period. Some of our other publications take a similar Sabbatical. The Cricket Paper has generally ceased from October-April, although this year it is continuing through the winter to take in the England tours of the UAE (Pakistan) and South Africa. The Football League Paper stops between May and August.

In our experience, subscribers are content to let their investment roll over for those fallow months. Anyone unhappy is instantly offered a refund.

The Golf Paper will continue until the World Tour Championship in Dubai (Nov 19-22) and then return for The US Masters build-up.

I am not going to comment further on David’s statement.  All I will say is I am a very happy long-term subscriber – both in terms of the paper’s content and prompt delivery to me – so I am pleased to hear it’s ‘business as usual’.

If you haven’t read ‘The Golf Paper’ yet I would urge you to do so.  If you do then please tell your friends. The more people we can get to support it the more chance it will have of growing and thriving.

ME.

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15th October 2015

I am no expert on newspapers and the media but I am starting to fear the worst for ‘The Golf Paper’.

‘The Golf Paper’ was launched in Great Britain on 8th April 2015, ahead of this year’s U.S. Masters, by Greenways Publishing Limited. Graham Otway is the Editor at Large and a number of well known journalists and golfers have contributed articles to date. 28 newspapers, each costing £1.50, have been issued so far and there is also a digital version available.

Greenways, which is owned by David Emery, a former Daily Express Sports Editor, had previously launched The Non-League Paper (March 2000), The Football League Paper (October 2005), The Rugby Paper (2008 England & Wales / October 2013 Scotland) and The Cricket Paper (May 2012) before venturing into golf.

The Golf Paper 151015

So let’s look at the warning signs emanating from ‘The Golf Paper’: –

Firstly, the launch of a paid-for weekly newspaper, let alone one dedicated to golf, was always going to be challenging given the changing media landscape and huge amount of high quality golf competition. One only has to think of Global Golf Post provided free online to subscribers every Monday, let alone the well established UK monthly magazines, to see the difficulties Greenways were going to face.

The first four issues came with 48 pages but ever since the number of pages has been reducing – in broad terms 40 pages (issues 5-16), 36 pages (issues 17-19), and now down to 32 pages in recent weeks (issues 20-28).  Some of that is down to reduced advertising but not all of it.

‘The Golf Paper’ doesn’t seem to be attracting enough advertisers. This week’s issue just has the ‘in association with’ sponsored pages of David Howell and Carin Koch as well as the Boss Watches Hole In One page. Whilst arguably beneficial for the readers you don’t have to be a media person to know this can’t be good for Greenways income and profits.

Finally, existing subscribers were sent an e-mail on Tuesday 13th October advising them that “After a fantastic launch year, The Golf Paper will be taking a well-earned winter break in November before returning in April 2016.” I don’t recall anyone mentioning a six month break when The Golf Paper was being launched. Whilst currently not clear at what point in November the paper will go into hibernation this must be viewed as a concerning development for its future. As we are all aware golf now ‘enjoys’ a wrap around season with big tournaments most weeks of the year. Just think about the European Tour’s Race to Dubai Season Finale which is coming up and the ‘Desert Swing’ next January and February. Such a move is also clearly not going to be good for reader loyalty and habit. In six months time how many existing readers will have moved on and forgotten about their Wednesday paper ?

What is slightly concerning to me is that this week’s issue makes no reference to the ‘big break’ yet happily continues to advertise for subscriptions on page 2. ‘The Golf Paper’ twitter account remains very active too and has also been advertising subscriptions this week:-

A new subscriber would no doubt be very unhappy to pay £60 for 30 issues this week only to find the paper going to ground in a few weeks time for six months…and even less so, dare I say it, if the paper failed to re-appear next April which must be a possibility.

I don’t want to be a doom-monger and obviously wish the ‘The Golf Paper’ team well. I read it and like it but the alarm bells appear to be ringing. I just hope the people who run it can turn it around (if that is what is required). If not, and things aren’t going as well as Management had hoped, let’s hope they are transparent and conduct themselves properly in the coming weeks. Journalists and subscribers, both existing and new, at least deserve that.

ME.

Copyright © 2015, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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