The departure of David Bond from the Daily Telegraph has opened up one of the most prized jobs in sports journalism, with remaining staffers at Victoria suggesting that the appointment of a successor will signal the direction of the newspaper in the coming years.
Bond was named as the new BBC Sports Editor last week, after less than two years in the hot seat working under executive Mark Skipworth, during which time they presided over wide-ranging redundancies on the sports desk.
Some insiders wonder whether Skipworth, who has taken on editing the Saturday Telegraph, may soon cede his responsibilities for the sports department, potentially leaving a void on the desk.
Skipworth was recruited in January 2008 from the Sunday Times, where he worked as managing editor (news), and his arrival was quickly followed by the departure of the highly respected Sunday Telegraph Sports Editor Jon Ryan, while the daily sports editor, Keith Perry, was promoted to a strategic role.
“Skipworth’s not a journalist,” one embittered Telegraph insider told sportsjournalists.co.uk, “he’s an accountant who was brought in to cut costs, and he has certainly done that.
“The way they treated some long-standing, widely read correspondents was little short of disgraceful. Yet they were shameless: after they got rid of golf writer Lewine Mair, they carried on advertising the Telegraph‘s golf book, written by Lewine.”
According to another Telegraph staffer, “Bond’s departure is undoubtedly a bit of a shock – Will Lewis rated David very highly – but they understand that the BBC job was too good an opportunity for him to miss.
“What will be interesting now is who they appoint to replace him, whether they go for one of the internal candidates, or bring in another refugee from the Mail.”
Sport had always been a strong selling point for the Telegraph, but recent changes in management have seen several Daily Mail executives hired, seeing the paper dubbed as the Maily Telegraph by Private Eye . “I understand the senior management are getting a bit worried about the sharp decline in the sport supplement quality,” the source at Victoria said.
Candidates for the Sports Editor’s job include Martin Chilton, who has been working at the Telegraph for nearly two years since leaving the Evening Standard, where he was Sports Editor.
Peter Mitchell and Jim Bruce-Ball, stalwarts of the Sunday Telegraph sports desk, are also likely contenders. “If they were to be considered, that would be interesting and a step towards restoring the old Daily Telegraph values, which made sport such an important part of the paper,” the source said.
Another name mentioned as a possible candidate for the top job is former Guardian man Paul Kelso, who had replaced Bond as sports news correspondent last year, and who – also like Bond – had been passed over for the BBC Sports Editor’s job when Mihir Bose was appointed at the end of 2006.
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