Editor's Desk: James Bandy, MATCH!

Bauer Media's football weekly MATCH! has just been relaunched. PRWeek talks to editor James Bandy about the changes.

Match! front cover
Match! front cover
Describe the magazine and its readers
MATCH! is THE weekly football magazine for every 8-16 year-old football fan. Not only does it have the best interviews with the world’s biggest stars, but we also have the best football league coverage, with news and interviews with the heroes of the Championship, League 1 and League 2. We’ve got the best features every week, from penalty shoot-outs and FIFA 11 face-offs with players to more in depth features like how you can make it in football, to why Barcelona are so good. We’re also first to review all the latest football products, we’re the only magazine to have skills advice from real FA coaches, we’ve got the latest news and gossip, the best posters, competitions and quizzes, and stuff that will make readers laugh, all the way through the magazine. Basically, it’s everything a young reader could ever want from a football magazine. And all for £1.99 a week? Bargain.     

Who are the competitors and what makes you different?
Match Of The Day, another weekly, is our main competitor, while Kick, a monthly title, is aimed at the younger end of our audience. The main difference between us is that MATCH! innovates. The relationship we’ve built up with players, clubs and PROs over the years ensures we get the biggest interviews first, and players seem to genuinely look forward to speaking to the magazine, whereas other football mags often have to rely on buying many of their interviews from agencies.

What makes a good story?
Anything that makes readers laugh, or that gets them arguing with their mates, or that gives them playground ammunition for school the next day. It has to be different, though. With all the different forms of media available today – and the number of different media children are consuming at the same time – they can get bog-standard football news from anywhere. What makes it good is telling them something they didn’t know before, that they want to tell their mates about.

Of which story are you most proud?
There are too many to mention. We did a penalty shoot-out with James Milner, not long before his £24 million move to Manchester City. Our competitors were there for a standard sit-down interview about his season, and were more than a bit shocked when our writer trotted out of the dressing room in full kit, ready for action. Our man was blasting shots at him, diving about trying to save Milner’s penalties, getting the England star in a headlock, wrestling – the pictures were amazing. But these are the things we’re doing regularly. Our annual FIFA takeover issues are also massively popular, and have gained recognition for its innovation from within the industry.  

What tips do you have for PROs to get coverage?
Know the MATCH! brand and its target audience. On more than one occasion I’ve had to politely decline the offer of a competition for a year’s free supply of beer – somehow, I don’t think our readers’ parents would be too keen. Oh, and don’t call me first thing in the morning. And don’t pretend to be my best mate if I’ve never spoken to you before. And yes, I know I sound miserable.

What are your own personal media must-haves?
Anything and everything. Sky Sports News is on in the office from the moment we arrive to the moment we leave, giving us all the latest football news and stories. The daily newspapers – well, tabloids – give us plenty of news and gossip, as do football websites. I buy all the football magazines, most youth magazines and numerous other titles – from Zoo and FHM to Closer and Heat – for design cues, feature ideas and inspiration. Then there’s the constant stream of live football on TV and, though I hate to admit it, Match Of The Day on a Saturday night.

Circulation: 72,747 (ABC Jan-Dec 2009)

Contact: Editorial assistant, Nikki Palmer nikki.palmer@bauermedia.co.uk, 01733 468008

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