Edition number 77; dateline 24 No vember 2014

The story behind the Leisure Review badge

Dedicated readers of the Leisure Review will have by now noticed the front-page advertisements for the Leisure Review premium subscription, a new service that involves us asking these and other readers to part with some money; but only if they really want to.

The concept of a paid subscription to the Leisure Review has been a long time coming and we have only arrived at this point after lengthy consideration and no little prevarication. It is, perhaps, a response to the question that we have been asked regularly since the Leisure Review launched: how does the Leisure Review generate income? Over the years we found that the most frequent and most useful response was that both the Leisure Review and Rupert Murdoch are still trying to work out how to make online publishing financially sustainable and as soon as one of us comes up with the solution we will all be a lot more relaxed.

There is some truth in this, albeit an uncomfortable one. In reality the Leisure Review has been able to count on the support of a number of generous advertisers and by serving as a shop window for the publishers, who were often commissioned by clients looking to employ the skills they observed on display within the pages of the leisure sector’s most independent journal.

Another reality is that producing the Leisure Review has always taken more time than could be justified by its revenue stream. However, thanks to a growing readership, our continuing enthusiasm for the sport, leisure and culture sector, and suggestions from people whose views we respect that the Leisure Review has a role to play in the professional development and future success of the sector, we have been pleased to carry on regardless. Amid difficult circumstance for sport, leisure and culture, local government and the wider UK economy, it has always felt to us that to continue our efforts, modest as they may be, to support and celebrate the sector was the right thing to do.

It is probably no coincidence that as our commitment and general nosiness has driven us to continue and expand our coverage of the sector our readership has expanded as well. But (you knew there would be a ‘but’) we also recognise that our desire to develop and extend this coverage needs to be sustainable. With neither the skills, resources or inclination to pursue a traditional advertising sales model, we instead wondered whether readers and organisations that read the Leisure Review and find value in its output might be persuaded to make a modest contribution to enable us to continue what we do.

It is not a hugely sophisticated offer but one that is, we hope, in keeping with our original ethos of celebrating and supporting the expertise and professional development of managers within the sport, leisure and culture sector. From this perspective, it seemed that putting the Leisure Review behind a paywall, as Mr Murdoch chose to do with the Times, would be at odds with these values but we also have to appreciate that the offer has to be a bit more than an appeal to our readers’ generosity.

With this in mind we have developed a premium subscription that we hope offers some value in return for a modest annual subscription. This includes some exclusive content for subscribers, advance notification of new issues of the Leisure Review, any special offers that we can devise and, of course, the celebrated Leisure Review subscriber’s badge, which is already being spotted on display at important meetings and events around the country. We are also hoping that organisations and companies, agencies and bodies might be persuaded to sign up to put their name in front of our readership as part of a cost-effective approach to advertising and brand association. To really push our luck, we will also be asking organisations whether they might be able to help us to add value to a Leisure Review subscription by way of special offers to Leisure Review badge holders.

For all this talk of subscriptions and added value, you will still be able to read the Leisure Review online and join our mailing list, all free of charge; but now you also have the option of becoming a premium subscriber and displaying the badge that demonstrates your support for the Leisure Review and your commitment to the sector.

So we now have a new answer to an old question. You won’t mind, I’m sure, if we suggest that you might like to sign up now via the subscription page and wear your badge with pride.

And we’ll tell Rupert Murdoch that you said hello.

Jonathan Ives


If you have been inspired to sign up please visit our subscription page, where all possible routes and options are laid out in some detail.


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“It is not a hugely sophisticated offer but one that is, we hope, in keeping with our original ethos of celebrating and supporting the expertise and professional development of managers within the sport, leisure and culture sector.”

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