- Des Lynam has announced that he is to leave the BBC to join rival broadcaster ITV.
Lynam, figurehead for the flagship BBC programme Match of the Day, will join ITV on a four year contract. He will initially spearhead the live football package Champions League, although it is understood the contract could see him branching out into other areas in the future.
Lynam, one of the lynchpins of the BBC's sports roster, has worked for the broadcasting corporation for 30 years. He dismissed rumours that the BBC's diminishing football coverage was the reason for his departure, saying: "I needed a change, a breath of fresh air, a new challenge. I felt where I was, and where I had been for a considerable time, I was beginning to go stale."
Lynam heralded ITV as the premier channel for football coverage, saying: "I'm delighted to be joining ITV and the best football product on British television".
Eyebrows had been raised previously by Lynam's criticisms of the BBC's chosen timings to broadcast games, but it is believed the crunch came after they were squeezed out in the bidding war for broadcasting rights.
ITV's sports controller Brian Barwick enthused: "Des is a unique talent in British television - a much-loved and respected figure. We're looking forward to him bringing his special style of presentation to ITV."