Vic Wakeling, the former Sky Sports managing director, has died at the age of 73.
He passed away on Monday and leaves his wife, Susan, and four children, Sally, Rob, Caroline and Kate.
Regarded by many within the industry as a great pioneer of sports broadcasting, Wakeling was formerly Sky’s Head of Sport from 1994 and Head of Football from 1991.
He went on to become the managing director of Sky Sports in the autumn of 1998, through to his retirement in 2009.
Paying tribute to Wakeling, the current managing director of Sky Sports Barney Francis said:
“Very few people have had a greater impact on sport in the UK and Ireland than Vic Wakeling.
“As head of Sky Sports for over 15 years, Vic’s vision, belief and investment helped transform sport on pitch and off. At a time when sport was undervalued and underfunded, Vic helped create Sky Sports and with it a platform that sport deserved.
“We are truly saddened and sorry to lose a pioneer, a colleague and a friend and I know everyone at Sky will join me in wishing his family and closest friends our deepest sympathies.”
Jeremy Darroch, group CEO of Sky added:
“As managing director of Sky Sports, Vic Wakeling took sport from the evening bulletins and made it part of the national conversation through dedicated channels, innovative production and award-winning analysis.
“Vic’s foresight and passion drove investment, interest and participation in sports at all levels and his legacy is the spectacle that sport plays in the lives of millions every day.”
Premier League executive chairman, Richard Scudamore, also paid tribute, highlighting Wakeling’s professional and personal integrity.
“All at the Premier League are so sorry to hear of Vic Wakeling’s passing and our thoughts are with his family.
“His achievements are well documented, including the revolution he brought to the innovative ways in which sport is now broadcast.
“We will remember him just as much for the professionalism and integrity he displayed at all times and for being the most decent of people.”
Wakeling moved into television in 1980 with TVS then moved to Mark McCormack’s IMG before joining satellite channel BSB. He has been with BSkyB since its formation in 1990.
He had previously worked in print journalism in the north and midlands before moving to Fleet Street with The Observer, Daily Express, People and London Evening News.
Joining Sky Sports at its launch, Wakeling was one of the team who established the new service and developed its acclaimed coverage of the Premier League from August 1992.
He oversaw Sky Sports growth into a network of five dedicated sports channels – Sky Sports 1, Sky Sports 2, Sky Sports 3, Sky Sports Xtra and Sky Sports News – and three high definition channels.
His channels are renowned for their quality live broadcasts, depth of coverage and wide range of sports. He also oversaw the rise of skysports.com – which went on to become the UK’s most successful commercial sports site.
During his time there were numerous on-screen innovations, including bringing viewers the world’s first live interactive sport, the first round-the-clock sports news channel and the move into HD broadcasting.
He won lifetime achievement awards at the 2007 Sports Industry Awards and 2008 Broadcast Awards.
In 2011, Wakeling was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s birthday honours. The award was recognition for the role he played in revolutionising both British football and television coverage of the sport.