Melanie Sykes has parted company with BT Sport, it has been confirmed this evening, with Craig Doyle taking on more responsibilities with the team.
In a statement issued to The F1 Broadcasting Blog, BT Sport said: “We regret to say that Mel Sykes will no longer be a part of the presenting team on MotoGP for BT Sport. BT Sport’s approach is to operate a team of presenters and experts who work across both live and magazine programmes. Mel has other broadcasting commitments which prevent her from being able to do this and as a result working across BT Sport MotoGP programming is no longer viable. We wish Mel all the best in the future. Our team remain the same, we have a fantastic team of presenters and experts working across MotoGP, as the rugby season comes to an end, Craig Doyle will present more live MotoGP.”
Sykes was announced as BT Sport’s MotoGP presenter on February 14th after emerging as a late front runner for the role. Three and a half months later, and the partnership has ended. I made comments about the announcement at the same time, however, her parting company with BT Sport after four races was something that no one predicted. She was absent from BT’s Le Mans coverage, which their press office said was due to “personal circumstances”. Like I said at the time, I don’t want to be drawn into that on this blog because it has nothing to do with her presenting. The phrase that I do not understand at all from BT’s press release is ‘other broadcasting commitments’. Surely this is something that is agreed before the final contract is signed? If personal circumstances is the reason for her departure, then fair enough, but that phrase really confuses me, because it suggests that either BT did not negotiate the contract properly or Sykes was unaware of what was involved. At this point, I wonder who else was in the frame, not that they can go and approach them because I imagine none of those candidates are free.
On the presenting side of things, I don’t think the studio helped her one bit. Whilst she looked out of her depth in Qatar, you know what, part of me would have liked to see her out in Argentina and Texas. I’m not saying she would have been amazing, however, having her present from the studio in Argentina and Texas was completely the wrong decision and meant that she could not get used to the live and vibrant MotoGP paddock. The opening weekend in Qatar was not great to put it lightly, but what is done is done. BT have to take some blame here, and clearly their calculated risk to take Sykes on has not paid off. In some ways, I think BT have thrown Sykes under a bus through no fault of her own.
It looks like we will be getting Craig Doyle on Sunday’s and Chris Hollins possibly on Saturday’s. Whilst the rugby season has finished, so has the football season. With that in mind, surely Jake Humphrey has to be a contender to front some of BT Sport’s MotoGP coverage through the Summer? Personally, I’d say that is a no-brainer, however I’m not convinced that it will happen. It’s fair to say that BT’s coverage from a personnel stand-point has got off to the worst possible start. I think some will call that an exaggeration, but can you imagine if Suzi Perry or Simon Lazenby decided to leave their respective teams a quarter of the way through a season? No, me neither.