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37% Of Top 100 Soccer Blogs Recommended by The Guardian In 2011 Are Now Defunct

On New Years Eve in 2010, The Guardian published a list of the top 100 soccer blogs worth following. The list was an unbiased review of the best soccer blogs on the planet. Now, almost two years later, a shocking 37 percent of the top 100 blogs are defunct.

The criteria I used to define a blog as defunct focused on any blog that hadn’t posted since June, 2012 (during the European Championship tournament). Many of the blogs on The Guardian‘s original list continue to thrive, but there are several on the list that are near death, not having posted any articles since August, 2012. By the end of this year, the 37 percent may increase to almost 50 percent.

In the past two years, we’ve lost such hallmarks as Run Of Play, European Football Weekends, Studs Up, Two Footed Tackle, Pitch Invasion, The Spoiler, The Global Game, A More Splendid Life and many more. Run of Play, certainly the best of the lot in my opinion, has now morphed into a Tumblr, which is reduced to a list of published articles by blogger Brian Phillips.

So what happened to cause the demise of these blogs? There are few reasons. Some of the bloggers went mainstream (Richard Whittall from A More Splendid Life became the editor of a Canadian media site, while the aforementioned Brian Phillips of Run Of Play now writes for Grantland, which is affiliated with ESPN). Some of them used their blogs to help land them jobs as journalists. One went on to create a print magazine (Tom Dunmore, XI Quarterly). But the rest of them just seemed to fade away. Whether the bloggers lost their passion, had too little free time or got burned out, it’s difficult to say.

Interestingly, many of the blogs that went away were UK-based. That’s not surprising since the list emanated from a UK publication. But the UK soccer blogosphere is still relatively in its infancy compared to soccer blogs in the United States that have been prevalent for far longer.

Five reasons why I believe that many of the blogs ceased publication:

1) There’s little to no money in the business. For the vast majority of soccer bloggers, it’s the love of the game that keeps them going. If it was for the money, most soccer blogs would have shut down a long time ago.

2) The prevalence of social media. It’s so much easier and less time consuming to simply post a person’s opinion on Twitter than it is to write a blog post. A single blog post could take a couple of hours. A few tweets or Facebook status updates could be done in under a minute.

3) The rise of the one-stop-shop media sites. The Guardian, ESPN and FOX Soccer were slow to catch on to the popularity of blogs, but all three soccer behemoths have blogs incorporated into their websites. As these online heavyweights keep soccer fans glued to their websites, they generate more revenue from advertising. Plus, the more the giant soccer websites cover in terms of news, it makes it harder for soccer blogs to differentiate themselves.

4) Blogging, for many, is a stepping stone. Very few people leave college and say that they want to embark on a career as a blogger. For many bloggers, it’s a means to an end. It’s an opportunity to build a portfolio, establish contacts and to gain access that they would otherwise not have been able to achieve.

5) It’s bloody hard work. On the surface, blogging seems pretty straightforward. The tools are easy to use, but the reality is that it takes a certain type of individual to continue blogging on an ongoing basis. It’s not for the faint hearted. And it’s not for someone who doesn’t have thick skin. It can be brutal at times, and the burn-out factor is extremely difficult to avoid.

Last but not least, what is a blog these days? It began as a web log, a personal diary of thoughts and writing. But nowadays, the design of most major news websites (The New York Times and The Huffington Post, just as two examples) look like blogs. In most instances, websites are blogs and blogs are websites. It makes it harder to differentiate.

So while social media has made a dent in the soccer blogging world, it’s also opened a new chapter. The demise of 37% percent of the top 100 soccer blogs is due to a combination of the above reasons. Whatever the reason, we’ve lost several remarkable sites. But as with life, we evolve, new voices bring fresh ideas to the conversation and we change. For. The. Better.

Side note: It’s not a rosy picture for the newspaper industry either. The Guardian has cut 200 jobs in both its editorial and commercial departments in the past year. And according to Britain’s Sports Journalists’ Association (SJA), the newspaper wants to reduce the staff by 100 more. As a result of the pending changes, it looks likely that The Guardian will let go of the following veteran reporters: Kevin McCarra, Harry Pearson and Martin Kelner.

The SJA reports that “The proposed redundancies come as part of The Guardian’s latest attempts to reduce its editorial budget by £7 million, a 10 per cent cut, following the business reporting £44 million losses and suffering a rapidly declining circulation. across the daily paper and its Sunday stablemate, The Observer.

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  1. Andrew Thompson

    July 16, 2014 at 3:11 am

    I just recently started reading this blog and I already love it. Keep up the good work Christopher.

  2. Jeremy

    February 27, 2013 at 8:45 pm

  3. Ian

    October 26, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    Interesting subject. I remain in the 63%, primarily because of a stubborn streak which prevents me from closing up and finding something better to do with my time. I’ve always wanted an editorial team that assume a collective responsibility for the old place, but it’s both morally and practical to expect anything from anybody while they’re not being paid for doing so. Every couple of weeks or so I think, ‘you know, I should really monetise (spit) this and try to make something of it’, but I never get around to it.

    On the subject of commissions, well, they happen for some people and not for others. They don’t seem to happen for me, but I’m not the worlds greatest hustler and I don’t have the time to chase it a lot of the time. As mentioned above, having a job and a partner gets in the way – which is as it should be.

    So, others will come along, but I am too old and craggy now to be considered the new anything. If you can make money from it, good luck. But don’t make that your sole motivation for doing it in the first place.

  4. Ali B (@MsTick68)

    October 26, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    Certainly some people who write other blogs that I follow (sceptic, political, book reviews) have stopped due to online abuse. OK, you can delete nasty comments, but you still have to read them. It can be soul destroying reading even minor nasty comments like the one above almost constantly.

  5. Out of date Beef

    October 26, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    Interesting read but you forgot one other thing why many have stopped: real life.

    Some of us who have stopped have done so for personal reasons, be it work, health, etc. Certainly in my case these were the main reasons.

    It’s also worth noting that a lot of those who have fallen by the wayside have seen their idea (or ‘niche’ as some call it) used by some of the mainstream sites. I guess imitation is the highest form of flattery. There are also a dearth of these ‘niches’ now too. Having said that, I haven’t seen a Cook Islands League blog yet.

    A lot of the ‘old’ ones have also been replaced by new, enthusiastic bloggers. It’s cyclical: when one goes, another 2-3 pop up, and 1 or 2 of them will be decent.

    To paraphrase one site, football blogging is not “eating itself”. It is merely evolving. Like any walk of life.

  6. Steve in Louisiana

    October 26, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    The Run of Play is still going, running out of a tumblr (the whole site is having technical difficulty right now). Last post October 14.

    • The Gaffer

      October 26, 2012 at 12:54 pm

      It’s still going as a Tumblr, but there are very few original articles there. Just links to other stuff he’s written on mainstream sites.

      The Gaffer

  7. Gary Andrews

    October 26, 2012 at 11:48 am

    That’s a shocking, but not entirely surprising statsitic, and thanks for doing a little bit of diggging on this.

    As one of the aforementioned blogs (twofootedtackle, which I ran with Chris Nee), I think there’s another consideration here as well.

    Many of the bloggers have indeed landed jobs as sports journalists or have been swallowed up by the mainstream. But also, many write for uber-blogs or, if they’ve stopped their own blogs, now are part of the writing team elsewhere. Many hands make light work, and all that.

    For example, Chris and Ryan Keaney (who was the 3rd part of TFT and used to run The Football Project) now help co-edit and also write for In Bed With Maradona. They also write for Whiteside Can’t Jump and The Stiles Council, sister sites for the UK national teams.

    I went down the other route, largely due to lack of time and increased responsibility in the day job, and now contribute occasionally to The Two Unfortunates and When Saturday Comes.

    I think a lot of the best bloggers will either naturally be picked up for paid work or, in a lot of cases, will decide that running their own blog is a lot of work and join forces with other bloggers or join the editorial teams of existing blogs, who will often have a larger audience.

    I don’t think there’s ever any one reason but there does appear to be a shift in football blogging culture – whether they’ll be replaced by a new generation, I’m genuinely not sure.

    • The Gaffer

      October 26, 2012 at 11:54 am

      Thanks Gary. That’s a great point about the bloggers writing for other blogs.

      Some could possibly make the argument that SB Nation and Bleacher Report have had an impact. But I would disagree. The vast majority of people writing for those sites weren’t among the list of the top 100 blogs. But I would argue that those two sites in particular have impacted the lack of new soccer blogs being created because their needs are satisfied by writing for a larger site.

      The Gaffer

  8. Terry

    October 26, 2012 at 11:30 am

    A few are still going in various other guises. Chris from TFT has his own England blog. I moved into podcasting. I’m sure there are similar stories.

  9. Dean Stell

    October 26, 2012 at 11:25 am

    My hat is off to bloggers who stick with it. I think the other thing that burns people out is lack of readership. As you note, it’s a lot of work to write up an entry: pick a topic, decide what you want to say, write it in a coherent fashion, proof-read, find graphics, etc….. If you do all of that and find that only 60 people read your work (and half of that is probably search engines)….well….that becomes demoralizing.

    However, I am a little surprised that sports blogs drop off that much because there is such a steady stream of material to comment on. I do some blogging on TV shows, comic books, etc. and that is easy because the topics pick themselves. I also do a professional blog about my job and that is much more difficult because I have to pick topics that I hope will be interesting to people.

  10. Guy

    October 26, 2012 at 11:23 am

    Interesting stuff. I hesitate to make a direct connection, but wonder if this article from The Telegraph (listed in the Daily EPL) might have any bearing. Is the Prem’s star waning?

    As for your side note on The Guardian, the two largest newspapers here in North Carolina have announced they will be implementing a paywall this fall. Personally, I won’t pay nor do I think many will. Neither paper is exactly the New York Times or Wall Street Journal.

    Challenging times for everyone in the world of news and entertainment distribution.

  11. Marc

    October 26, 2012 at 10:46 am

    EPL Talk is the only football blog I read. Keep up the fantastic work Gaffer.

    • The Gaffer

      October 26, 2012 at 11:57 am

      Thanks Marc for the kind words. I appreciate it!

      The Gaffer

    • George

      October 26, 2012 at 12:13 pm

      I feel sorry for your life.

      • Tim

        October 26, 2012 at 12:23 pm

        Wow, such a bitter and unnecessary comment.

        The Gaffer does an amazing job here, reading his content costs you NOTHING, and yet you visit here and intentionally sh*t the bed?

        Sad, sad man.

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