The last remaining sports “pink” in the West Midlands is to shut next season as evolving readership habits and changes in match timings have spelled the end of the Express & Star’s Saturday evening sports paper.
After 90 years of publishing the Wolverhampton-based newspaper is shutting its Sporting Star title, printed on pink paper, at the beginning of the 2009-2010 football season.
Express & Star managing director Alan Harris said the move was taken in response to changes in the way fans access sports news.
He said: “The pink was started in 1919, reaching a peak in the 1950s and 1960s but unfortunately technology has outstripped its viability.
“First it was terrestrial TV, then it was Teletext, then Sky Sports and obviously now the internet. Also many of the major matches are not played on a Saturday.
“Reluctantly we have decided that the 2009-10 football season will not have the sporting pink.”
Mr Harris said there would be no job cuts as a result of the move and added the newspaper would instead concentrate its resources on online sports coverage.
“We are going to beef up our Saturday coverage on our website with sports programmes, updates from the grounds and comments from the fans,” he said.
The Express & Star is also reducing the number of editions of its main paper on Saturdays from the current eight down to two, although the edition structure for the rest of the week will remain the same.
Saturday evening sports papers, printed on coloured paper to make them stand out, were once a staple of the weekend regional press, earning affectionate nicknames like “the pink” or “the green ‘un”.
Many football fans have nostalgic memories of buying the papers on their way home from the match along with their fish and chips.
But the changing patterns of match timings brought in to accommodate the needs of broadcasters like Sky Sports have meant far fewer games kick off on a Saturday at 3pm, so producing a paper on a Saturday evening no longer makes commercial sense.
Coupled with the availability of instant sports news and analysis online, the last few remaining “pinks” dotted up and down the country are struggling to survive. The closure of the Express and Star’s Sporting Star would mean the disappearance of the sole surviving pink in the West Midlands after the Coventry Evening Telegraph closed its version last November.
Three years ago the Birmingham Post parent company Trinity Mirror closed its Birmingham pink, which used to have the highest circulation in the country.
The Sports Argus made its last stand-alone appearance in May, 2006, before it was taken into the Birmingham Mail’s Saturday and Monday papers.
The company blamed its demise on falling circulation and “a huge reduction in the number of sporting fixtures kicking off at 1500 BST on a Saturday”.