Back in the days of my youth, the football magazine everyone bought was Shoot. Launched on 16 August 1969, Shoot quickly picked up a circulation of around 300,000 and for the next few years its premier position seemed unshakable. It absorbed Goal (launched in 1968) in 1974 and during the 1970s maintained a circulation of around a quarter of a million copies a week. In 1979 it was challenged by Match Weekly, launched on 6 September; IPC tried to stifle the new magazine by launching another of their own, Top Soccer a week later (dated 15 September); it didn't work, and Top Soccer folded only a few months later, absorbed into Shoot on 12 January 1979.The Guardian (17 June) is reporting that Shoot! will close down at the end of June after a 40-year run. Although sales figures for recent issues aren't available, the switch from £3.10 monthly to £1.80 weekly at the end of February has clearly not given the paper the sales boost it had hoped for. Even at £1.80, the paper was far more expensive than its rival, Match, which costs only 99p. The Daily Mail (17 June) notes that "insiders say that Shoot struggled with the fierce competition and that the product was becoming increasingly comic like, offering less news and insight than its competitors."
Eventually, Match (as its name was shortened to in 1983) emerged victorious. Shoot became a monthly in May 2001 and Match (website here) has remained the strongest selling of the two titles. Recent circulation figures have pegged the ailing Shoot at 35,830 copies a month whilst Match has had a healthy weekly sale of 113,049 for publisher Bauer Consumer Media who took over the title from Emap.
It seems that's all about to change as Shoot, aimed at the under 12 football fan, is trying to reestablish itself. Its website (which you can find here) describes the magazine as "the loudest, brightest, funniest and naughtiest footy magazine on the market." It has activity features, jokes, funny pictures and posters... "but even though we are all about "the fun", the new Shoot remains first and foremost a football title, dedicated to bringing our readers into the world of their heroes. Whether it be through interviews (they can even ask questions themselves!), jaw-dropping facts or how-to pages, the new Shoot is the mag that gets readers closer to the stars"
Following the release of the March 2008 issue, Shoot has just been relaunched as a weekly on February 26th. Plans had been in the offing for some time but had to be brought forward with the announcement that BBC were to launch their own football magazine, Match of the Day. Not the first time the BBC have had a magazine of that title--they had one back in the 1990s which was aimed at the same adult audience who regularly watched the TV show. The magazine folded after a five-year run in May 2001, and the revamped weekly title, planned under the code name 'Project Robin', is now being aimed at 8-to-14-year-olds. Edited by ex-Match editor Ian Foster, the new mag. will go on sale on Tuesday, March 4th.
But that's not all. The market has also recently seen the launch of Kick!, launched by Attic Media Network in 2006 following the successful launch of a German magazine of the same title in 2005 which sold 80,000 copies. Kick's latest ABC figure is 62,290, up 24% year-on-year--at a cost to Match which was down 13% in the same period. (Shoot was up 7.1% following a relaunch in September 2007.)
There are at least four other general (not club specific) soccer magazines aimed at a more adult audience: Champions (24,775), Four Four Two (114,215), When Saturday Comes (18,800) and World Soccer (44,020).
If that's not enough to fill the battlefield, Interactive Publishing (who took over various adult titles formerly published by Richard Desmond) are to launch their own monthly magazine called The League which they appear to be hoping will make it easier to get financing for new titles if they are not so reliant on adult titles.
A press release quotes Paul Williams, the managing director of IPC Inspire (a subsidiary of IPC Media), as saying, "It is with great regret that we have had to make this decision. We are of course in consultation with the six permanent staff directly affected by the proposal, and every effort will be made to find alternative jobs if this becomes necessary."
IPC Inspire are in negotiation with Pedigree Books to sell the Shoot trademark, so the final whistle may not have been blown just yet. Pedigree publishes the Shoot! Annual and various other seasonal activity books using the Shoot brand.