Tributes have been paid to the respected sports broadcaster David Oates who has died suddenly at the age of 50.
Oates, who worked for the BBC for more than 25 years, died in hospital on Sunday following a short illness.
Best known for football and rugby league commentaries, he was a lifelong Blackpool FC supporter and a keen runner. He recently left BBC Sport full-time and had been working as a freelance radio journalist.
Oates joined the BBC in 1986 as sports editor at BBC Radio Manchester and doubled up as the station’s Manchester United reporter.
After eight years in the post he joined BBC Radio Sport in London as a producer before taking on a position combining presenting, commentating and reporting roles.
Richard Burgess, head of BBC radio sport, said: “David was a trusted and much-loved colleague who provided many years of loyal service to the BBC.
“His enthusiasm for commentating and reporting on football and rugby league was boundless – we will all remember with great affection his love of Blackpool FC in particular.
“To lose him at such a relatively young age is a tragedy.
“Our thoughts are with his wife Charlotte and daughters Imogen and Kate at this desperately sad time.”
Oates was commentating for BBC Radio 5 live when Fabrice Muamba collapsed on the pitch at White Hart Lane in March 2012 having suffered a cardiac arrest while playing for Bolton against Tottenham.
Jonathan Wall, acting controller of BBC Radio 5 live, said: “No-one ever had a bad word to say about David.
“I will remember the quality of his commentary as the Muamba story unfolded, his great skill as rugby league commentator, but most of all his love of Blackpool FC and the Blackpool songs he used to sing in the office.”
During his distinguished BBC career, Oates covered three football World Cups, three Rugby League World Cups and two Commonwealth Games.
In 2012, he reported on his first Olympic Games for BBC TV where he commentated on the shooting events during London 2012, including Peter Wilson’s gold medal for Britain in the double trap discipline.
Away from the BBC, he also commentated on a number of Championship rugby league matches for Premier Sports.
‘On behalf of everyone in rugby league, I would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to David’s wife Charlotte and their children at this terrible time,’ said Rugby Football League chief executive Nigel Wood.
‘David was not just a friend to the sport, he was a friend to many people at the RFL and we are shocked and saddened by his untimely death.
‘As a broadcaster he was the consummate professional. His commentaries were never anything other than accurate, intuitive and knowledgeable.’
Oates is survived by his wife Charlotte Nicol, a BBC Sport producer, and their two children.