Rubython Back with New Scandal Mag

sport-pro.jpgTom Rubython, the maverick publisher who has spent the last four or five years publishing a fair quantity of half-truths and upsetting nearly everybody in the paddock is back for more in 2008. SportsPro is his new glossy monthly title, launched a few weeks ago and promising a broader horizon that its predecessors, BusinessF1, Formula One Magazine & EuroBusiness by focusing on the business of all professional sport, not just F1.

The Feb edition makes a brief reference the Americas Cup, but is straight into bat on more familiar turf, including a detailed and forensic Max Mosley profile (albeit largely recycled content from previous Rubython stories about the President of the FIA) and a lengthy assessment of the new McLaren PR man and his first few days in his new post.

 Objectively, it is easy to dismiss Rubython – in all probability, the new title is probably a means to place his previous magazine business into liquidation following a series of libel actions last year that found against the publisher. His new magazine maintains Rubython’s ranting house tone and style and he will undoubtedly seek to scalp a few more bigwigs before SportsPro is in the dock again.

You’d condemn his methods from any objective or ethical perspective, but you still find yourself tearing the cover off your subs copy of the title every month – and I reckon I am not alone – simply to get at the gossip and scandal – after all, this base human instinct to vicariously witness the humiliation and suffering of others is the essence of what makes magazines like Heat such a publishing (and financial) sensation.

However, BusinessF1 didn’t look like a great financial success, reliant on subs and limited advertising because the title lacked distribution and was too specialist to generate meaningful cash from cover sales. As the magazine at one time or another put the literal boot into the face of its own audience, subs were limited and F1 sponsors were gently encouraged not to support the magazine with advertising.

So how do Rubython’s publishing enterprises sustain themselves? The conspiracy theorists have two lines of conjecture, the first is that despite Rubython being a mature fifty-something, he is still ‘kept’ and bank-rolled by a rich Daddy who bails him out when the libel costs become unsustainable. The second theory, more interesting perhaps, is that Rubython, who was once upon the time in the employ of Bernard Charles Ecclestone, is still his sometime poodle, occasionally deflecting attention with a soft critique of F1’s ringmaster, but in reality writing features at Ecclestone’s behest – a little far fetched perhaps, but whatever the reality, I’m already looking forward to issue 2 of SportsPro.

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