Some love nothing better than vegging out on a Saturday with their eyes firmly glued to the football. Plenty of matches to choose from across Sky Sports and BT Sports.
While others the right kind of people I might add love nothing more than watching the Soccer Saturday lads having the craic while we sit desperately alone. Ah I do love a lazy Saturday afternoon quietly sobbing into a can.
Gillette Soccer Saturday is a staple of Sky Sports weekend programming. Pundits watch the big English football matches on that weekend and feed us viewers the information. But it’s the personalities that we really watch it for.
Jeff Stelling the hilarious host feeding us score lines and updates a hundred miles a minute. Chris Kamara set up in a ground somewhere in England giving us weekly doses of comedy gold with his natural charm. It all makes for extremely pleasant viewing on a Saturday afternoon and is a great alternative if you don’t want to or can’t watch a live game.
Unfortunately, our beloved Soccer Saturday could be about to drastically change for the worse.
Bad News Sports Fans
As it was recently announced that Soccer Saturday regulars Matt Le Tissier, Charlie Nicholas and Phil Thompson have all been let go by Sky Sports. Despite having a year left on their individual contracts.
The decision was made by Sky Sports to cut cost due to the financial impact of Covid-19.
This is along with reportedly cancelling popular shows like Goals on Sunday, The Sunday Supplement and The Debate.
All of this means only host Jeff Stelling and pundit Paul Merson remain for the long-term regular team fans love.
Understandably the last two remaining members were not best pleased with their long-time colleagues and friends getting the sack. Especially by a massive company that has made money throughout the lockdown to save a few quid.
Jeff and Paul To Join Them?
Paul Merson has considered leaving his position too in solidary with his friends.
It’s the news of Jeff Stelling apparently considering quitting the show ahead of the 2020/21 season that has fans very worried. Like has 2020 not been bad enough now we have this.
Stelling is said to be very disappointed by the sacking of Le Tissier, Nicholas and Thompson.
He said in a recent twitter post “One of my saddest days ever at Sky Sports with the departure of three of my best mates.”
Stelling began hosting the show in 1994 with the likes of George Best and Rodney Marsh as regular contributors in the show’s early days.
While the show has had its ups and downs it has become one of Sky Sports best in recent years. A lot of that success is down to the in-studio comradery with Stelling, Merson, Thompson, Nicholas and Le Tissier.
While other pundits have come in every now and again those five are the winning format of the show.
Pundits like Clinton Morrison, Tony Cottee and Alan McInally can be seen on the show with various degrees of success. But it’s the five lads we mentioned that are loved by the audience and work so well together.
Even without one of them the show simply isn’t the same.
The Future Of Jeff Stelling
This is news that stunned all of us. Especially both Stelling and Merson who as we said could follow their friends out the exit door.
Stelling remains under contract with Sky Sports but could still quit and walk out on his own accord.
Probably the preferred way Sky Sports would like to see him go if they are looking to tighten their budget. It would save them giving him a big pay out on his exit.
The 65-year-old apparently isn’t very eager to build up a new relationship with a team of fresh faces. It is said that he has a long notice period. With him being the ever professional it is said that he would honour that period if he was the quit.
So even if he does start the show on the opening day of the 2020/21 season he could still be gone by the end of the season.
Why Is This Happening?
Sky Sports have said that this is all because they are looking to overhaul their programming.
While I can understand wanting to keep your programming fresh. Surly this wasn’t something that needs changing.
It’s one of the most popular shows they air. Evident by the fan reaction since the news has been broken.
I understand that football is changing and a lot of the regulars on Soccer Saturday are older gentlemen. But for the most part they still provide very good analysis on the current game. While Merson and Nicholas won’t be winning awards for their pundit work they still all compliment each other very well.
If you are going to bring in younger pundits that’s alright. But we must face facts Sky Sports are seriously lacking in that department.
Can Anyone Replace Them?
Ian Wright has come out and said comments about possible replacements are “racially driven” but that simply isn’t the case.
Many fans don’t want the likes of Clinton Morrison, Sol Campbell, Micah Richards, or Patrice Evra joining the Soccer Saturday team because they are poor pundits not because of their skin colour.
While personally I think Richards and Morrison are good bubbly personalities. A lot of what they say has zero substance or insight. Sol Campbell is awfully boring. While Evra is hard to listen to as he just goes off on confusing tangents most of the time.
It is the same way I wouldn’t like to listen to the likes of Jamie Redknapp, Graeme Souness or Roy Keane for five hours of my Saturday afternoon. Simply due to their overall pundit abilities and entertainment value.
Of course, there are talented people at Sky Sports. But they either have other regular roles that they might enjoy or are on hosting duties of other shows.
It just seemed like Sky Sports have rocked a boat that really didn’t need rocking.
It can be a tough industry, but this has really blinded sided a lot of people.
Completely overhauling the show seems like a wrong move. If you want to start introducing more people fans can accept that. After all some of the younger pundits like Richards or Morrison could definitely improve working with experienced people like the lads on Soccer Saturday.
After all that’s how people grow and develop. Working alongside people that can teach them.
But if you have a completely new and somewhat inexperienced group it will take much longer for them to gel and settle into their roles.
As a fan of the show this might seem a bit of a rant. It’s just horrible to see anyone lose their job because a massive company is looking to save money. It’s gross and a bit of a slap in the face to fans and Sky subscribers that like the show because a lot of people do.
Simply if it’s not broke don’t fix it. They killed Soccer AM with changing personal and now as much as I hate to say it Soccer Saturday looks to be following.
Hopefully, all effected will land on their feet.
Maybe BT Sports could see this as their gain sooner rather than later. I’m all for a Soccer Saturday 2.0 down the road.