Soc­cer Satur­day axes trio

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Tom Mor­gan

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

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