How to pitch articles to WSC
What sort of topics does When Saturday Comes cover?
We try to keep the magazine’s content true to our roots, which are in the 1980s fanzine movement. WSC readers can be generalised as football fans who, on the whole, like to attend matches and have an interest in the game at any level. They are as concerned with the Northern Premier League and FA Trophy as they are the Premier League and Champions League. Every club has a story.
That being said, when WSC launched there was relatively little mainstream football coverage in the UK. Now it is all-consuming, with a majority of the focus on the biggest clubs in the biggest leagues. That means we’re more interested in stories outside this “elite” bubble – the good-news stories, the dubious owners, the experience of attending matches and the particulars of being a fan.
We do occasionally cover the more “elite” end of the game, but in very specific ways. Here are a few examples:
• Liverpool’s 2019-20 Premier League title win was covered from the perspective of a fan whose experience has encompassed both their time dominating Europe and the “fallow” years, and the mixed overarching feelings of both joy and relief.
• At a time when Manchester City were receiving a lot of criticism for their perceived low crowds, we commissioned a fan to look at the real reasons behind the empty seats and question whether the criticisms were valid given the history of the club’s support.
• The Ballon d’Or awards often make headlines, but their recent “Dream Team” led to some controversial decisions.
• It’s rare we cover transfer rumours but a Birmingham fan pinpointed Jude Bellingham’s rise and wrote of the pride their fans had in watching him develop.
We’re a monthly publication, so we aren’t looking for articles that would fit into a weekly football cycle – there is a full week between us going to print and that issue going on sale. We try to minimise the chances that something will be overtaken by events, though it does occasionally happen.
Before pitching, it is important that you look at the style of writing we publish in the magazine and any previous articles we have published on the topic you want to write about. If we have covered your particular club in the last issue or two, we are unlikely to cover them again so soon. Our complete archive is online and free to access for subscribers. If you do not have a subscription to the magazine, the archive is still searchable so you can see recent topics covered (but not read the articles themselves). Click here to look at the archive.
What regular features do you publish?
While we welcome pitches for standalone articles, you may also want to pitch ideas for some of our regular features. For new writers this is often a good way to get started with us, as there is an existing structure and previous examples to look back on.
Season in Brief A popular feature that looks back on a particular season in history, why it was significant, what happened and who was involved. The feature is about the season as a whole, rather than focusing on one specific team. We have done a lot of these features, so it’s worth checking on our archive before pitching a particular one.
Object Lessons Writers pick out a piece of football memorabilia that is important to them, explaining the context around it. This could be anything from a scarf or gloves to a club pencil or youth-team trophy.
Shirt Stories A short article focusing on a particularly memorable club shirt, whether it’s due to design, sponsor or the season in which it was worn.
Still With Us Looks at former Football League clubs who are now in non-League, how they got there and what the future may hold.
Non-League Regions Focusing on a specific region’s non-League clubs and the interesting stories within. We often have these planned out in advance so we have a good geographical spread of articles in each issue, but we always welcome ideas for clubs to cover and will see where we can fit them in.
Football Cities Similar to the non-League regions feature, but focusing on the “other” clubs in cities around the world where there are one or two internationally well-known clubs.
Book reviews We have space for a maximum of three book reviews per issue. We are normally sent books by publishers, which we then offer out to reviewers depending on their subject matter.
Match of the Month The decision and organisation of which match to cover is handled by the editorial team and dependent on a large number of factors, so we rarely accept outside pitches or suggestions of which matches to cover.
Focus On This is a regular feature written by the editorial team, and as such we do not tend to accept outside pitches for the feature.
What length articles are you looking for?
Articles in WSC are normally around 750 words, which tends to fill a page of the magazine. This allows us to keep articles succinct and cover the widest possible range of topics in each issue.
There are a few exceptions: Match of the Month tends to be around 1,500-1,800 words. We occasionally have shorter “secondary” features on a specific topic, which may be 500 words.
On occasion, if we feel the subject warrants more space and depending on what else is planned for that issue, we may give an article up to 1,000-1,200 words.
We won’t run long-read articles, so if your pitch is for a 2,000-plus word article but we think the topic is a good theme, the editorial team may discuss with you ways of narrowing the scope to keep the article effective at a shorter length. In general, though, it’s best to keep 750 words in mind when first pitching.
What sort of writers are you looking for?
In short, we welcome pitches from anyone. Throughout its history WSC has published early articles by now-established writers such as David Conn, Barney Ronay and Harry Pearson. We are also happy to publish work by amateur writers, young and student journalists, and fans who just feel they have something to say – because nobody knows their clubs as well as the fans. Our aim is that WSC mixes the work of seasoned journalists with amateur writers, and often gives them the same amount of space to tell their stories.
How should I pitch?
Your pitches should be succinct and give an outline of the topic you would like to cover, and why it should be covered. A paragraph of around 100-150 words should be enough. Feel free to include links to any relevant news articles about the topic, should you feel they are necessary.
While we do not need or expect a full CV or covering letter before commissioning you to write an article, links to a selection of articles you have previously had published is always useful. If you have never had any writing published, we may ask you to write a couple of paragraphs of the article and send them over, so that we can help give you any guidance on the tone of writing required by the magazine.
It is extremely rare these days for us to run web-only articles. We can’t pay for them, and anything good enough to be published online is also good enough for us to save for a spot in the magazine. Instead, we use our website to publish select articles from the magazine after its publication. We cannot pay extra for also publishing your article online.
It is also worth looking at our publication dates, to see if any time-sensitive element of your article pitch would not fit in to our schedule. Our print deadlines are a week before the listed publication dates so if, for example, your article hinges on a game that happens in the weekend that falls between the two, it’s unlikely to be suitable for us to publish.
Who should I pitch to?
When should I follow up an article I pitched?
We have a small team and time gets very stretched around print deadlines. If your article pitch is not time sensitive, please give us up to ten working days to get back to you before following up – though we do of course aim to respond sooner than that. If it is time sensitive, please make that clear at the top of your pitch.
How much do you pay?
Our standard fee is £75 for a 750-word article. Book reviews are paid £50, while for longer articles such as Match of the Month we go up to £125.
We pay on publication. Due to our size, it is rare we are able to pay a “kill fee” for an article that has been written and does not get published, which is why it’s so important to accurately pitch the article and discuss the idea with the editorial team before writing it.
What happens if my pitch is accepted?
Great news – now you need to write it. The editorial team will discuss the idea with you and you will be given a word count and a deadline for submitting the article.
The deadline is obviously important because we work to a strict print schedule. If it seems like you will not be able to submit the article by the deadline you are given for whatever reason (for example, someone you wanted to interview for the article is no longer available until a later date), please inform the editorial team as soon as possible. It does not mean the article will automatically be dropped – we may be able to hold it over until a later issue. But the sooner we know, the sooner we can plan around it.
Once you have submitted your article, that is not the end of the work. Your article will go through an editing process where it is checked for sense, style, accuracy, spelling and grammar. Sometimes the editorial team may have questions for you about aspects of the article, other times it may be edited for length. Please do not take any questions or editing personally – it is a standard process for every article we publish and something every writer will experience. If you disagree with a particular edit you are always welcome to say so and explain why, and your views will be taken on board. Ultimately the final decision on what is published lies with the editor of the magazine. The editorial team will often send back a final draft for you to check over, but this is not always possible due to tight print deadlines.
We often work with a surplus of articles for each issue, which inevitably means some miss out. In that event, we try our best to hold over the less time-sensitive articles and publish them in the following issue, though it is not unusual for some articles to be held as “back up” for a number of months.
Once your article is published we will let you know. Feel free to invoice us then if that’s how you prefer to work, but you don’t have to – we will get in touch with you regarding payment.
What is the WSC Writers’ Competition?
This annual competition was launched in 2012 in memory of contributor David Wangerin, author of Soccer in a Football World, who died that year. Entrants are invited to submit an article of between 800 and 1,500 words about any aspect of football, and do not necessarily need to be related to the current season. The award was David’s idea and he requested it should only be open to amateur writers – ie those who do not make a living from football writing. There is a cash prize of £250 for the winner. For more information and updates on deadlines for each year, please click here.
I’m an illustrator/cartoonist/photographer, will you publish my work?
Will you review my book?
We have limited space for reviews in each issue and do our best to ensure a range of topics are covered. We are also looking to review books that would be of interest to a general audience, so some club-related books may be too specialist for us to cover. If you would like your book to be considered for review, please post a copy to: When Saturday Comes, PO Box 587, Beckenham, BR3 9NY.