Gary Barlow ‘to quit X Factor to focus on music’

Gary Barlow is reportedly set to quit The X Factor panel after the forthcoming series, in order to focus his attention on his music career.

According to The Sun the Take That frontman has told show bosses that he will be too busy promoting Take That’s new album to return to the panel in 2014.

Reports suggest the band will begin recording the new album early next year – and will spend much of 2014 on tour across Europe

“Gary’s a decent bloke and figured it was best to lay his cards on the table as early as possible,” a source told the paper.

“He wants to get back to doing what he does best, recording a new Take That album and touring with his bandmates.

“It looks like there’s no room for X Factor so this is likely to be his last year.

“The producers always feared his day job would get in the way, and they’re delighted they’ve had him for three years.”

A spokesman for the singer has denied the reports, saying Gary ‘hasn’t made any decisions on next year’ – while the Mirror has reported that he will decide about his future on the show over the next 48 hours.

However rumours of his departure have sparked speculation that Simon Cowell – currently a judge on the US version of The X Factor USA could return to the show as a full-time panellist in 2014.

Viewing figures for that show have fallen below 10m, sparking rumours that it could be axed after the next series – which would free Simon up for a UK comeback.

This year’s X Factor also sees Sharon Osbourne returning to the panel for the first time since 2007 – replacing previous judge Tulisa Contostavlos.

Nicole Scherzinger and Louis Walsh are also back on board for the next series, which will begin in late summer.