Ex-Leeds chief behind free sports magazine

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The Independent Online

Chris Akers, the internet and sports entrepreneur, started a free weekly sports betting magazine yesterday, two weeks before the launch of The Sportsman, a paid-for daily aimed at the same market.

About 30,00 copies of the 64-page magazine, TakeSport, were distributed outside London rail and Tube stations. The title's circulation and geographical reach will expand in the coming weeks.

Mr Akers, who sold his Sports Internet business to BSkyB for £301m in 2000 and is the former chairman of Leeds Sporting, a group that used to own Leeds United Football Club, said he would try to demonstrate that it was possible to produce a high-quality title without the sort of lavish budget planned for The Sportsman. TakeSport, 80 per cent owned by Mr Akers, has a "six figures" budget behind it.

TakeSport will take editorial content from the Press Association news agency, while The Sportsman, backed by a former Telegraph Group chief executive, Jeremy Deedes, is to launch on 22 March - Budget Day - with a budget of £12m and a staff of 120.

Mr Akers said: "The paid-for market is threatened. Within three to four years, cover prices will be significantly reduced, if not eliminated."