The Blizzard: A Football Magazine For The Thinking Fan

As the craving for quotes by the nationals reaches fever pitch, a group of respected football writers have joined forces to produce a leftfield football magazine for fans sick of the cult of celebrity.
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As the craving for quotes by the nationals reaches fever pitch, a group of respected football writers have joined forces to produce a leftfield football magazine for fans sick of the cult of celebrity.

In many ways, football coverage has reached saturation point, why launch a new football title?

I think we offer something a little bit different. For a start there is the length – our pieces range from 1000 words up to around 8000, far longer than can be accommodated in existing newspapers and magazines, which gives us freedom to analyse things in depth, or to take a more leisurely, contemplative approach. And then there is subject matter: newspapers and magazines inevitably concentrate on the glamour clubs and the glamour players; our payment structure means we don’t have the same financial pressures and so we can be a little more esoteric in what we look at.

And who do you expect your readers to be?

Football-lovers who appreciate good writing. From the response we’ve had so far, it’s clear that the appetite for this is global – we’ve had interest from across Europe, Australia and the USA.

Where did the name come from? Ossie Ardiles' attacking method at Spurs perhaps...

It’s taken from a weekly newspaper first published in Sunderland in 1893 by a Mr Sidney Duncan. It only ran to 12 issues, he wrote pretty much the whole thing himself and it’s definitely on the eccentric side, but it’s also oddly brilliant. At one point he doubled the cover price to cut sales because dealing with all the money had become so time-consuming.

I see there are some respected names attached to the project, who will be writing for it?

There are 25 writers have contributed to Issue Zero. Some, such as Gabriele Marcotti, Philippe Auclair, Ian Hawkey and Simon Kuper, are well-known to a British audience; others, such as Sasa Ibrulj, Ouriel Daskel, Michael Orr and Luke Alfred, may not be. The aim is to put together the best writing from around the world, be that from new writers or established names, journalists based in Britain or overseas.

You're renowned for tactical analysis, is there going to be a defined shape to the editorial agenda of The Blizzard?

We want as far as possible to give writers the freedom to write about what they want to write about; my role as editor will be to try to find the right balance of analysis, humour, reportage, history, opinion and interviews. There will be tactical pieces, but it’s by no means a tactics magazine.

What topics are covered in Issue 0? Will there be regular features that are in every issue or will each issue be different?

It’s an eclectic mix – from the effect of nationalism in Corsican football to an attack on Roy Race for destroying English football, from the tale of somebody who starts to believe their Football Manager game is real to the story of the child Garrincha fathered in Sweden, from an interview with Guus Hiddink to a parable about African failure at the World Cup. Certain sections – Theory, Polemics, Greatest Game and Eight Bells (the first three pretty obvious I think, the last a collection of eight pieces on a single theme – in Issue Zero, it’s European Cup upsets) – will be regular, but the rest is fluid.

I’d like to think it is like the great Hungary side of the early fifties, packed with great individuals working together as part of a coherent team in a form that is radically different to anything that has gone before.

And what about the aesthetics, will it be image or copy driven?

We’re very much word-driven, but that’s not to say we’ve paid no attention to design. It’s clean and simple, there’s the occasional diagram, and each section is introduced with a title page, but all the artwork is aimed at providing the right context for the articles.

I see that the payment method for budding contributors is quite socialist in concept, could you explain?

None of our contributors have been paid up-front. We simply tot up the money we took on each issue, deduct production and distribution costs and divide the rest among the writers proportionally. Similarly there’ll be no set cover price; within certain parameters, readers can pay what they want – as far as possible we don’t want to price people out. The writers have had faith in us to put the magazine together; now we’re extending that faith to the readers to pay responsibly. If everybody pays the minimum we die; if some people can offer more – as they have been so far – then hopefully we can become financial viable. Profits, though, really aren’t the air; it’s about providing the space for writers to write about what they want to write about.

And regarding contributions, is The Blizzard an open book? What's the criteria?

I’m happy to listen to any idea, but I would warn potential contributors that with only around 25 pieces per issue, we probably won’t be using more than 50-60 writers each year.

So when is The Blizzard out? Where can I get it from? How often will it be published?

Issue Zero, the pilot, is out now and is available as a pdf download on a pay what you want basis. From June, the magazine will be available in print and digital forms. You can subscribe through the website, or set up a one-off payment. It will then come out every three months.

And do you plan to take it one issue at a time or is there a strategy for year two or maybe even international syndication?

We have some plans of how we may progress in the future, yes, but essentially we’re still feeling our way and responding to suggestions from readers. For instance, a couple of people emailed in early to point out that it would be easier to read our pdf on an iPhone if it were available in single - rather than double-page format. Anybody who would prefer the single-page version can now email us at info@theblizzard.co.uk and we’ll email them the revised pdf.

And if The Blizzard was a team / player from an any era, which or who would it be?

I’d like to think it is like the great Hungary side of the early fifties, packed with great individuals working together as part of a coherent team in a form that is radically different to anything that has gone before.

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