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Closure of the 606 website

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Ben Gallop Ben Gallop | 09:24 UK time, Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Today, after eight years and many hundreds of thousands of user comments, we are closing down the 606 website.

The 606 radio show continues, of course, as one of the lynchpins of the 5 Live schedule and the long-established home of grown-up football debate. But its online counterpart has come to an end.

I explained in my original blog post back in January why we had taken this decision. The headline is that the BBC as a whole is cutting costs and is taking a more streamlined approach to its online offering. For us at BBC Sport this means we are focusing on the priority areas of our website: the latest news across a whole range of sports and live coverage of the biggest events.

In many ways 606 belongs to an earlier era of the web. Technology and user behaviour have been transformed in the years since it was launched in 2003. As I have mentioned before, it is worth remembering that this was back in the days before the likes of Facebook and Twitter came along to change not only the internet but, some would argue, create whole new forms of social interaction.

I know many people still use 606 and enjoy the banter and the chance to exchange views with fellow fans on the sporting issues of the day. And it is worth stressing that all of us at BBC Sport Online are proud that 606 established itself as such a popular forum for debate. But we have had to accept that things move on and, with user numbers declining for a number of years now (the audience has halved since 2008), the end of the 2010-11 football season feels like an appropriate time to bring things to a close.

Let's be clear though, we still welcome comment and debate. We want to do that both on our own site and on other sites our audiences may be using, whether that's Facebook, Twitter or any other social networking services.

On our own site, we want our audience's views to become a more integral part of the main BBC Sport website rather than on a separate 'mini site'. In the coming months we will be introducing new ways for fans to discuss the biggest sports news stories and give their views on the major events on the main pages of BBC Sport Online rather than taking place over at 606.

But we also recognise that there are so many other places on the internet for fans to take part in sporting debates - this clearly isn't a preserve of the BBC. In fact I'm sure many of you will take the chance to comment below giving examples of other websites that have developed thriving communities of sports fans.

It only remains for me to thank everyone who has taken part in 606 discussions over the years. It's been a website that was always dependent on the creativity and dedication of its users - and we owed it all to you.

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