The Sportsman, heralded as the first national newspaper launch for 20 years when it hit the newsstands in March, has closed after just seven months.
The administrators decided to stop printing after negotiations to refinance the paper reached a stalemate.
The Sportsman’s chairman Jeremy Deedes says: "It is a very sad note on which The Sportsman closes. Since we redesigned the paper six weeks ago, circulation has grown every week. Ironically, our last recorded sale of 21,000 was not only our best day’s sale since the launch period but also corresponded to the figure set out as break-even under the new business plan."
The paper has been plagued by problems since its launch. It missed the Cheltenham Festival and, despite selling 65,000 copies on its debut, its initial audited circulation of 21,800 copies was well below the original break-even target of 40,000.
Marketing director Mark Dixon left in May and the paper pulled out of the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) in July, blaming inconsistencies resulting from its decision to change distributors. It finally went into administration on July 20 and subsequently dropped its Sunday edition (MW August 17).
However, things started to look up when the paper relaunched with a greater emphasis on racing and Deedes adds: "To be shutting on a sales rise is somehow more heart-breaking than if we had been in steady decline."