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Readers need to pay for journalism to survive, says top football reporter

Phil Hay with Leeds Trinity University lecturer Darren Harper

By Thomas Reyer

The former chief football writer at the Yorkshire Evening Post thinks the future of sports journalism relies on audiences paying for content.

Phil Hay, who had spent 13 seasons at the YEP, was poached in the summer by The Athletic, a subscription-only sports website that has recently launched its British arm. Phil has been joined by some of the country’s top sports journalists.

The Athletic is looking to prioritise longform articles, changing the journalism on offer to football fans, but is also asking their readers to pay for the content they produce.

Phil believes this approach can be the future of sports journalism.

He said: “I think that there is a definite sense among football fans that they gravitate towards certain areas and outlets that they specifically read.

“That is what the Athletic want to tap into, but equally I think they’re going after with people with a broad interest in football.”

The Independent and the Telegraph currently require subscriptions to read content online and Phil thinks this will became the future for all publications.

He said: “If everybody moves towards the subscription model, then you either have to go with it as a reader, or you’re not going to get the content they produce.”

Phil believes the industry needs to move forward towards subscription models, simply because publications need to continue to make money.

He said: “I have seen in the regional papers how difficult it is to make money and how difficult it is for organisations to thrive. The bottom line is that they need to make more cash.”

The argument is that many football fans can find the content that they are looking for online and most importantly, for free.

The Athletic is aiming to produce different content to other publications to bring an audience to their website. They are producing features that fans really want to read about.

Phil added: “I like the look of the website, how clean and easy to use it is and the depth of the content.

“I also like the fact that it’s different and it’s a shift away from what so many people are doing in the day-to-day breaking news.”

If you would like to subscribe to The Athletic, then head over to the website –


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