Jacqui Oatley, the first woman commentator on Match of the Day, is joining ITV as a sports presenter from the beginning of the next football season.
Oatley will anchor football shows on ITV4 as well as some coverage of matches on the main ITV channel.
Niall Sloane, ITV’s director of sport, said: “Jacqui’s outstanding knowledge and experience make her a first-class addition to the ITV Sport team. We look forward to welcoming her on board in September.”
ITV Sport, which is showing England’s friendly international in Italy tonight, made transfer headlines of its own earlier this year, when it summarily axed football presenter Adrian Chiles, replacing him with BBC Radio 5Live’s Mark Pougatch.
Chiles had joined ITV on a reputed £6 million contract in 2010, in a deal which saw him presenting the ill-fated breakfast show Daybreak, a new chatshow and ITV’s Champions League and England international coverage, including last summer’s World Cup in Brazil.
No reasons were ever offered by either party for Chiles’s abrupt departure.
At the time, ITV Sport also announced that long-time pundit Andy Townsend was to leave the channel.
Oatley’s recruitment appears to be the next step in ITV Sport freshening up its presentation team, as it competes for sporting audiences now not only with the BBC, but with burgeoning satellite operations with Sky and BT Sport.
And just with some other key broadcasting “talent”, such as Clare Balding, who works across Channel 4, BT Sport and the BBC, Oatley will still be doing some work for the Corporation. “I’m not leaving the Beeb as such,” she tweeted today. “Still hosting the WWC [women’s World Cup] coverage in summer and match reporting, etc next season. Love covering live games.”
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