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Tributes to journalist who ‘transformed’ sports coverage

Tributes have been paid to a former regional press journalist said to have transformed the coverage of sport in UK newspapers.

David Welch, who has died aged 63, began his career on the Leicester Mercury in the 1970s before going on to an illustrious career with the Daily Telegraph.

As the Telegraph’s sports editor he established the first daily sports supplement by a national newspaper and signed-up some of the biggest stars in the world of sport as columnists.

He was also a leading figure in the successful campaign to bring the 2012 Olympics to London.

Born in Sussex in 1948, David made an immediate impact in journalism after answering an ad for a racing correspondent for the Mercury.

He correctly tipped 50-1 outsider Snow Knight to win the 1974 Derby, then predicted the first two finishers in the 1978 Grand National.

His growing reputation as a demon tipster won him national renown and he moved to the Telegraph in 1984, becoming sports editor five years later.

He established the paper’s Monday sports supplement in 1990 but such was its success that it soon went daily.

Former Telegraph editor Max Hastings said:  “David was the man who made Daily Telegraph sport what it is.

“When we began to reshape the paper in the late 1980s there was a great opportunity to dominate the market in this vital field.  Welch was the man who did it.”

The current editor Tony Gallagher said: “We all owe David a huge debt for the way he established the Telegraph as the pre-eminent sports newspaper.

“The fruits of his work are still evident today, in our newspaper and those of our competitors.  He changed the game and will be much missed.”