• New anchor was lead presenter of football coverage at Sky
  • The full team will not be announced until after Euro 2016

Mainstream television coverage of British racing’s biggest events will have a new face in front of the camera next year after ITV finally confirmed widespread reports that Ed Chamberlin, formerly the presenter of Monday Night Football on Sky Sports, will anchor the channel’s racing coverage when it takes over from Channel 4 on 1 January.

Chamberlin had been widely expected to move to ITV following confirmation two weeks ago that Sky’s broadcast of Manchester United’s delayed match against Bournemouth on 17 May had been Chamberlin’s last for a channel which he joined 16 years ago.

“I am absolutely thrilled to be joining ITV and to be given this great opportunity,” Chamberlin said in a statement on Wednesday. “These are exciting times with ITV returning as the home of British racing from 1st January 2017. I had 16 years at Sky full of great memories and brilliant people. It was hard to leave but this opportunity was too good to miss.”

At first sight, Chamberlin’s switch from covering Premier League football to British racing could seem like a strange career move in terms of the two sports’ relative public profiles. However, it is also move from a subscription-based satellite broadcaster to a mainstream terrestrial channel, while Chamberlin’s enthusiasm for racing is also beyond doubt. He worked for Ladbrokes before joining Sky and is a close friend of Tony McCoy, who retired from race-riding in April 2015 after 20 successive seasons as National Hunt’s champion jockey.

Since his retirement, McCoy has worked as an expert pundit on Channel 4 Racing and Chamberlin’s appointment will be seen as increasing the chance that McCoy will continue in a similar role when coverage moves to ITV next year. The broadcaster agreed a four-year exclusive contract for terrestrial racing coverage from 1 January 2017 earlier this year, believed to be worth £30m, and is committed to show at least 34 days of racing on its main channel, and another 60 on the digital channel ITV4.

Grant Cunningham, ITV’s head of publicity, factual and sport, said on Wednesday that it is “unlikely” that Chamberlin will host every day of ITV’s racing output, “but it will be the vast majority”. Cunningham also confirmed that no further announcements about the remainder of ITV’s presentation team will be made until after the Euro 2016 football championship in France, which ends on 10 July.

Nick Luck, who has anchored most of Channel 4’s racing output since the station was awarded a monopoly on British terrestrial coverage from the start of 2013, said on Wednesday that he would be happy to discuss a role in ITV’s racing team.

“I’ve got enormous respect for Ed as a broadcaster and I’ve no doubt he’ll do a fine job,” Luck said. “If ITV felt I could make a meaningful contribution as well, I would be very happy to have that conversation, but ultimately that’s for others to decide.

“As far as next year is concerned, I’ve got a number of projects and ideas to explore, some within racing, some outside. I’m committed to doing shows for NBC
[in the United States] until the end of 2018, so clearly I’m keen not to move away completely from the sport I love and have been broadcasting since I was 23.

“I’ve never enjoyed the job as much as I am at the moment, I love going to work and it’s been a fantastic few years having the opportunity to front most of the Channel 4 programmes. It has been a particular thrill for me to be able to host an iconic sporting event like the Grand National.

“I’m not saying we’ve always got everything right but we’ve a lot to reflect upon positively.

“The job now is to carry on with passion and pride - including at Ascot next week - so that when ITV take over on January 1, there’s a sound platform and
level of interest in the sport that hopefully can be strengthened.”