The X Factor judge Louis Walsh has claimed that Cheryl Cole and Simon Cowell will be leaving the UK version of the show – to focus on its US counterpart.

According to the News Of The World, Louis said, “It will be me and Dannii Minogue on the UK show with two more people.”

However, a source said that ITV chiefs are desperate to keep the pair on the show, despite their potential involvement with the US X Factor.

“It will be a disaster if they both go,” the insider said. “The bosses are desperate to find a way around it but it will be such a huge commitment being on both shows.

Simon’s priority is making the US X Factor the biggest TV show in the world. Cheryl wants to have a life. She doesn’t want to spend two days a week on flights across the Atlantic.”

If the pair were to leave it would doubtless create a frenzy among stars keen to take over on the judging panel.

Last night bookmakers Ladbrokes made Take That‘s Gary Barlow the favourite to replace Simon, with Robbie Williams, Ronan Keating, James Corden and Elton John also in the frame.

They are also tipping Sharon Osbourne to return if Cheryl Cole leaves – with other names mentioned including Katy Perry, Mel B and Nicole Scherzinger.

A spokesman for Simon told the paper, “How his role with The X Factor UK will work is still being discussed.”