Soccer Saturday axes trio
Sky Sports has dropped three of its longest serving pundits – Matt Le Tissier, Phil Thompson and Charlie Nicholas – from its Soccer Saturday programme. It is understood Sky wants a younger and more diverse line-up. Regular presenter Jeff Stelling described it as “one of my saddest days ever at Sky Sports.”
Matt Le Tissier, Phil Thompson and Charlie Nicholas, long-serving regulars on Sky Sports’ Soccer Saturday, have been dismissed by the broadcaster as part of major changes planned to its weekend football offerings.
Jeff Stelling, the programme’s anchor, expressed sadness over the loss of his “three mates” as Sky confirmed their departure just three weeks after axing another weekend football TV institution, Sunday Supplement. The three former players have been familiar faces on the show for around two decades. “We are changing some parts of our football coverage – Matt, Charlie and Phil have done a great job for us over the years and they will leave us with our sincere thanks and very best wishes,” a spokesman told The Daily Telegraph.
It is likely broadcast chiefs are planning to introduce a more youthful line-up, with the three outgoing pundits perceived as “old school” at a time when live television is panicking about the loss of younger viewers.
Le Tissier, the former Southampton and England forward, had been one of the first figures in the game to say he was “reviewing” whether to continue wearing a Black Lives Matter badge due to the movement’s policy of “defunding the police”.
After the 51-year-old broke news of his departure online, Stelling tweeted: “One of my saddest days ever at Sky Sports with the departure of three of my best mates. They have been part of a team that for me was the best.”
Le Tissier said of his departure: “Enjoyed my time at Sky Sports – time to look forward to life’s next challenge. Thank you for the support down the years and special thanks to the backroom team.”
Telegraph Sport disclosed on Aug 5 how the Sunday Supplement football discussion show, featuring newspaper sports journalists, is also being cancelled for the coming season.
It is understood that the show had been squeezed out by scheduling demands with more games being packed into a shorter timeframe, as well as Sky’s capturing of all exclusive live rights to the Scottish Professional Football League.
Heading for the exit: Matt Le Tissier is leaving Sky as part of major changes to the broadcaster’s football coverage