By Martyn Herman
LONDON, July 14 (Reuters) - British soccer fans have reacted with shock to the surprise announcement that leading commentator Clive Tyldesley has been demoted from his number one role at broadcaster ITV.
In a statement, ITV said the 65-year-old Tyldesley would "no longer hold the role of ITV's main football commentator from the start of next season" with Sam Matterface taking over.
Tyldesley, ITV's lead commentator on England games since 1998 and who has voiced numerous Champions League finals including Manchester United's epic 1999 comeback against Bayern Munich in Barcelona, said he was baffled by the decision.
"Quite a few people have been in touch with me asking me to react to comments, I'm not sure that would be a very good idea at the moment," Tyldesley, who would have commentated on the Euro 2020 final had it taken place last weekend, said in a video posted on Twitter.
"I'm upset, annoyed, baffled. I would have been entrusted with commentating on the Euro 2020 final 48 hours ago, but now I won't be commentating on any of the big England games."
Tyldesley reassured well-wishers he did not have health issues and had not "done something wrong".
Judging by the response to his video, many fans are equally baffled. The video was viewed 2.8 million times, retweeted nearly 19,000 times and received 82,000 likes.
One wrote: "There are very few people in the industry whose love for their craft shines through as much as his," although another was less sympathetic. "You're 65, still got a v nice job, not been sacked...get over it."
ITV Director of Sport Niall Sloane said: "I would like to thank Clive for his superb work leading our commentary on some of the biggest occasions in world football throughout his outstanding career with us.
"We are very glad he will continue with us and look forward to working with him on many more occasions in the future."
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ken Ferris)
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