SportingLife changes stable

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The Independent Online

SportingLife.com, the online reincarnation of the newspaper that closed five years ago, has been sold to internet gambling operator UKbetting.

The £1m deal, expected to be announced tomorrow, ends many months of speculation over the future of the brand. The entire share capital will be sold to AIM-listed UKbetting for just £2, with the remaining £1m element of the bid paying off the company's debt and leaving some cash left over for working capital.

SportingLife.com, one of the UK's most visited sports websites, represents half of a joint venture between Trinity Mirror and the Press Association known as PA SportingLife. The other half is TotalBet.com, a gambling website that operates fixed-odds and pools betting services through an arrangement with the Tote.

Trinity Mirror has long been keen to sell the business as a non-core asset, and PA is also understood to be happy with the sale.

SportingLife.com went live in 1997 after the print title closed. Using the strong brand, it has managed to keep traffic high. In June this year, it had 708,000 unique visitors and 43 million page views. Unfortunately, like many online businesses, it swallowed up investment too quickly. PA SportingLife is believed to have made losses of £4m over the course of last year.

For UKbetting, this deal is the second in just three weeks. On 25 September it made a recommended offer for Sportscard – an affinity credit card company.

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