Michael Atherton scoops sports writer of the year

British Sports Journalism Awards recognises former cricketer.

Former England cricket captain turned cricket correspondent for The Times Michael Atherton was named sports writer of the year at the British Sports Journalism Awards last night.

Atherton received the prize from the Sports Journalists' Association at their annual awards. He was chosen following a poll of national newspaper sports editors.

He was also named sport columnist of the year and Sky Sports' Test cricket coverage, which he contributes to, was named TV sports programme of the year.

Paul Hayward from The Observer was second as sports writer of the year and David Conn from The Guardian came third.

Jeff Stelling from Sky Sports was broadcaster of the year for a fifth successive year, taking the TV broadcast prize. Jonathan Agnew and the BBC Radio 4 Test Match Special team were named radio broadcasters of the year, the first tme this award has been given.

Sports photographer of the year went to Scott Heavey of Action Images.

It was a strong night for the Daily Telegraph which picked up four prizes in total.

The Daily Telegraph's Paul Kelso won sports story of the year for his coverage of the rugby "Bloodgate" scandal, involving the faking of blood injuries at Harlequins; and his colleague, football correspondent, Henry Winter was named specialist correspondent of the year.

The Telegraph's Oliver Brown was young sports writer of the year for a second time and the paper also won team of the year for its Ashes cricket coverage.

Lawrence Booth of the Daily Mail won the prize for regular blog column and Tom Fordyce of the BBC was named as the best live blogger of the year.

Top betting writer was Steve Palmer of the Racing Post, cartoonist of the year went to Paul Wood of Private Eye, diarist went to David Hills of The Observer for a second year and regional sports writer went to Mike Aitken, who is a freelance.

Dominic Ponsford is the editor of Press Gazette


Dominic Ponsford is editor of Press Gazette

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Is anyone prepared to solve the NHS funding crisis?

As long as the political taboo on raising taxes endures, the service will be in financial peril. 

It has long been clear that the NHS is in financial ill-health. But today's figures, conveniently delayed until after the Conservative conference, are still stunningly bad. The service ran a deficit of £930m between April and June (greater than the £820m recorded for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year) and is on course for a shortfall of at least £2bn this year - its worst position for a generation. 

Though often described as having been shielded from austerity, owing to its ring-fenced budget, the NHS is enduring the toughest spending settlement in its history. Since 1950, health spending has grown at an average annual rate of 4 per cent, but over the last parliament it rose by just 0.5 per cent. An ageing population, rising treatment costs and the social care crisis all mean that the NHS has to run merely to stand still. The Tories have pledged to provide £10bn more for the service but this still leaves £20bn of efficiency savings required. 

Speculation is now turning to whether George Osborne will provide an emergency injection of funds in the Autumn Statement on 25 November. But the long-term question is whether anyone is prepared to offer a sustainable solution to the crisis. Health experts argue that only a rise in general taxation (income tax, VAT, national insurance), patient charges or a hypothecated "health tax" will secure the future of a universal, high-quality service. But the political taboo against increasing taxes on all but the richest means no politician has ventured into this territory. Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has today called for the government to "find money urgently to get through the coming winter months". But the bigger question is whether, under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is prepared to go beyond sticking-plaster solutions. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.