The Athletic is ramping up in the United Kingdom. Mid-August is being eyed for launch and at least 50 staffers have been tasked with making that happen. Not everyone, it seems, is rolling out the welcome mat.
Consider The Spectator Magazine, which first gives voice to some long-held questions and concerns about the subscription-based company:
In the time-honoured way of ruthless American predators, they are on a hiring spree, raiding the sports departments of our best newspapers and throwing money, stock options, signing-on fees and benefits at many of Britain’s leading journalists. This is in turn leading to rapidly inflating salaries and bidding wars for talent. No bad thing, you may say; but some of the salaries could soon become unaffordable, with parts of our already beleaguered national and regional press having to pull horns in further, or even close.
Then, in ruthless matter-of-fact fashion, takes a shot at the American press:
Papers such as the Mail, the Guardian and the Telegraph offer exceptional coverage and have invested heavily in their print and online offerings. In the US, the complaint is often that sports journalism has been undernourished; I don’t think anyone would say the same here.
This all makes sense. Brits are good at two things: journalism and taking a look down their nose, though low-riding glasses, at anything from this side of the pond with a sense of smug superiority. Seeing both combined in a single column gives me an odd sense of comfort.
The Athletic certainly doesn’t need any tips for me but it does feel like the reluctance to chase so-called clickbait could be a tough hurdle. If there’s one thing people love to read on the Tube, it’s salacious soccer-related gossip. They may think they’re extra-refined over there, but the browsing habits suggest otherwise.