Last chance for an old friend?

Danny Rose is one of a number of Pompey players signed up to write a player column in the new-look Sports Mail

Danny Rose is one of a number of Pompey players signed up to write a player column in the new-look Sports Mail

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There has been the occasional epitaph posted on social media in recent days, albeit emanating from a miscommunication.

The odd outpouring of sorrow, mourning the demise of a treasured friend.

‘No more’ sobbed some, negotiating tear-drenched keyboards to send their earnest respects.

Yet to loosely quote Mark Twain: ‘The reports of the Sports Mail’s death have been greatly exaggerated’.

It remains, it continues to exist, the heart still beats.

And the decision to transform the Sports Mail into a remodelled Sunday morning publication with refreshed content is a means of breathing new life in to it.

The goalkeeper may have been sent up front in the last seconds in an attempt to change the course of the match, but the fight remains and nobody is giving up the cause.

It was April when the potential end of the publication which first entered this world on September 5, 1903, was initially mooted.

Declining sales amid a country-wide dissolution of Saturday sports papers had condemned the Sports Mail to a seat on death row.

Average sales tallied 40,984 in September 1960 – during the majority of the 2015-16 campaign they had dwindled to 2,792.

A hefty injection of interest was required, a new masterplan essential, to prevent the Daily Echo’s Sports Pink becoming the last man standing.

The Fratton faithful’s response to that early warning was heartening, while the football club initiated talks to help prolong the shelf life.

Chairman Iain McInnes and the ubiquitous Colin Farmery led the Fratton Park charge – a sight of might inevitably welcomed by The News.

During the past three seasons, the Sports Mail has raised a grand total of £40,226.60 for the club’s flourishing Academy set-up through a pledge of 10p from every copy sold.

It is a gesture that is deeply appreciated by the club and, understandably, they have been eager to maintain that fruitful partnership.

The outcome is a new-look Sports Mail hitting newsagents from this Sunday morning, revamped and polished to reflect a fresh beginning.

Old favourites such as the on-the-whistle match reports remain, although now accompanied by analysis from the manager and players following the final whistle.

A weekly player column is being launched, with Danny Rose, Gareth Evans, Gary Roberts and Carl Baker taking turns in lifting the lid on the Fratton Park dressing room.

There is the introduction of a Pompey Past page, penned by Roger Holmes and the Portsmouth History Society, which will look at events which have occurred on particular dates in the club’s history.

Another new arrival is the Junior Blues section, which includes a column penned by popular club mascot Nelson.

Staying with youth, Pompey’s Academy will continue receiving excellent coverage to reflect its on-going production of first-team players.

There will be regular interviews with members of Mikey Harris’ under-18s, serving as an early introduction to Blues followers.

The increased content has attracted a 10p rise, yet still represents excellent value for money for any Pompey – and football – supporter.

However, subscription can be taken out for just 52p a copy by visiting localsubsplus.co.uk/psm or calling 0330123 5950.

But while the Sports Mail has been handed a reprieve, as ever it is down to the readers to dictate the length of lifeline.

Those declining sales mean this is the last throw of the die, a final push to secure its viability for the future.

The threat over the Sports Mail’s existence has not been removed, merely postponed in the hope change can instigate its resurrection.

Generations of Pompey supporters have grown up with the publication, it possesses treasured memories and initiates wonderful affection.

For more than 113 years, the publication has been a constant companion of Portsmouth Football Club.

Now it’s over to you – starting this Sunday morning.

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