Now is the Winter off, they're discontented - Telegraph's Henry Winter signed by The Times

The Telegraph's top sports writer Henry Winter is understood to be leaving the paper after more than 20 years to join The Times.

Winter has been at the Telegraph since 1994 after joining from The Independent.

He has a huge following among Telegraph readers, with in excess of 1m followers on Twitter (more than the Telegraph itself).

In 2010 he was named by Press Gazette as the number one sports journalist in the UK, following a poll of journalists and the general public.

One senior former Telegraph journalist told Press Gazette: "Him and Matt [the cartoonist] are considered to be the two biggest stars that the paper has. Staff will be horrified at this news.

"So many people read the Telegraph from the back to the front. Winter is the biggest football writer there is."

No one at The Times or the Telegraph was available for comment.

But Press Gazette understands from well-placed sources that Winter has been recruited by The Times.

Winter was believed to be on a lucrative contract at the Telegraph with 'golden handcuffs' designed to tie him in. Press Gazette understands that he had a lengthy notice period which was intended to make him difficult to headhunt.

The Times has been closing the gap on the Telegraph in terms of print sales, and now has more confirmed overall sales (print and digital) than the Telegraph.

In February print sales of The Times rose 2 per cent to 389,051 year on year with 147,000 digital subscribers making a combined total of 537,000. The Telegraph had an average daily sale in February of 479,937 (down 9.5 per cent year on year).

It was rumoured earlier this week that Winter was joining Buzzfeed. And his Wikipedia profile has been changed to say that he has joined the site.

But Buzzfeed has confirmed that this is not the case.

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