Sport magazine became the latest casualty among consumer titles after the free weekly ceased publication following the collapse of Sport Media & Strategie, its French parent.

The company has already held talks with larger European publishers over the sale of the British operations but a deal is far from being agreed. It is not known whether a buyer will be sought for the French edition.

Greg Miall, managing director of Sport UK, said: “The last six months have been very tough. In September and October, when Lehman went under, a lot of people pulled their advertising and waited until Christmas. The market has come down a lot more than the official WPP and Aegis-type estimates.

“If you are down 20 per cent you are not doing so badly. When you speak to people who run businesses they are down more.”

The magazine has a small staff of 24 and circulation of 317,000 a week. It was launched in 2006 but has never made a profit.

Administrators for the UK side of the business will be appointed in the next couple of days. They have already been appointed in France.

Sport operated in the men’s lifestyle market and from an advertising perspective competed with FHM, Men’s Health and GQ, which are published by Bauer Media, Natmag and Condé Nast respectively.

Mr Miall, who confirmed the company had enough cash to pay its staff this month, said: “A lot of the magazine companies have got a lot of issues at the moment. They love our magazine but say they don’t need another issue.”

The launch of free titles such as Sport and its competitor Shortlist, another lifestyle magazine for men, was made amid great fanfare as it was thought they would provide a vehicle for advertisers to reach the elusive, young, upmarket, male readers.

However, there has been a recent shake-out in this market.

Maxim, the well-known men’s magazine, will disappear from shops in June after Dennis Publishing, its owner, decided to move the struggling publication online only. Its circulation fell 41 per cent in the final half of 2008. Bauer closed Arena, its upmarket men’s lifestyle magazine, last month after 22 years on British newsstands.

Sport, which won “launch of the year” in 2007, built its reputation on big interviews with sports personalities such as Tiger Woods, David Beckham and Rafael Nadal. Sport was handed out in certain commuter stations, airports, on Eurostar and at gyms.

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