Bill Bateson, a long-serving former sports editor of the News of the World, has died at his home in Cornwall after a short illness aged 73.
Over 34 years with the NoW, Bateson worked under 14 editors.
He joined the NoW in 1960 and filled a range of roles from sports sub-editor to sports editor and assistant editor (sport). During the 1980s, Bateson played a vital role in adapting the newspaper from broadsheet to tabloid.
NoW editor Colin Myler, said: “Bill was a supreme professional. He spent 34 years at the News of the World and for 12 years was one of its most celebrated sports editors. He was an absolute master of his craft and a wonderful warm and generous human being.
“He identified and mentored some of the finest sports journalists in the business today and our profession is much poorer without him.”
Bateson left the NoW in July 1994 and joined the Sunday Telegraph as a sports consultant.
After retiring at the age of 70, Bateson and his wife Glenys moved to Falmouth in 2008. He indulged in his passion for football, making regular trips to the Emirates to support his beloved Arsenal.
Current NoW sports editor Paul McCarthy said: “Bill was a huge character, a wonderful personality and the kind of boss you always wanted to go the extra mile for.
“He gave me my first job in national newspapers and I will always be hugely grateful for his confidence in me.
“His experience, knowledge and wisdom were invaluable and there are a great number of people earning a living in sports journalism who owe him a debt of gratitude. It was a privilege to work with him but an even greater privilege to call him a friend.”
Close friend and former NoWd cricket and rugby correspondent David Norrie said: “There has been no more popular sports editor over the past 25 years than Bill Bateson – not only with his own staff, but with all those involved on the sports scene outside the offices of the News of the World.
Despite the many changes – broadsheet to tabloid, Bouverie Street to Wapping and the typewriter to the laptop – Bill remained the consummate professional.
“It was quite an experience being on the receiving end of one of his rollockings, but you never made that mistake again. Bill invested in people and he wanted you to be the best journalist you could be.”
A keen golfer, Bateson became a much-loved member of the Press Golfing Society after joining in 1992 and was elected Captain in 2000. At his Captain’s dinner during the millennium year, he invited his good friend Gary Lineker to give the keynote speech.
NoW legal manager, Tom Crone, said: “Bill Bateson was probably the most popular and well-loved person I have met in journalism. He radiated an irresistible mix of friendliness, camaraderie and hilarious good humour.
“Once met never forgotten, Bill’s greatest strength was the bond he formed with those he met, whether they were sporting icons, newspaper bosses or fellow journo’s. We all loved him.”
Bateson is survived by his wife, daughter Sally, son Paul and his five grandchildren.