The future of football fanzines

A big part of match-days for many people is the experience of feeling the atmosphere before kick-off, and fanzines contribute to this.

The Square Ball is a fanzine for Championship club Leeds United and one of its editors Michael Normanton has helped run it since 2010.

Normanton runs The Square Ball as a full-time job, so the current Covid-19 pandemic has big implications for him, especially after the announcement that the EFL season has been pushed back to April the 4th.

However, despite Normanton knowing they will miss out on some sales, he is hopeful some revenue can be maintained

 “It’s hard to say at the moment, we print about 2,000 paper copies and about 700 of those go to subscribers so about 1,300 go on matchday sales.” 

“So we are potentially looking at missing out an all of those, we are hoping that a lot of these are replaced by people putting mail orders in or people buying the digital version instead. But I’d say we are probably looking at half the sales.” 

A big part of The Square Ball’s business is podcasting, doing a weekly podcast as well as a subscribers podcast called the ‘The Extra Ball’, where the majority of the revenue comes from.

“We are fairly hopeful that the Extra Ball stuff will keep continuing because that’s just a couple of quid a month, that’s actually where the majority of our revenue comes from now,” Normanton explained.

The magazine it does make some money but nothing like The Extra Ball because there are overheads.”

“We will still look to do the podcast as much as we always do, even though there is very little to talk about, but the knock-on effect of all of this is we will need to find things to discuss week in-week out.”

Although it remains to be seen what will happen with the conclusion of the EFL season, Normanton remains hopeful he will see Leeds United in the Premiership by any kind of conclusion, saying;

“Although I’d love the season to be finished normally and not behind closed doors, I just think the season needs to be completed and not voided.”

“So fingers crossed next season we will be seeing Leeds United play Premier League football with crowds at Elland Road.”

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