Stephen Halliday: Sky may regret firing Charlie Nicholas and Co.

Former Sky Sports pundit Charlie Nicholas. Picture: John DevlinFormer Sky Sports pundit Charlie Nicholas. Picture: John Devlin
Former Sky Sports pundit Charlie Nicholas. Picture: John Devlin
Is it the format or stars that make Soccer Saturday?

We may be about to discover if the real genius of Sky’s Soccer Saturday programme is the format itself or the composition of the panel which delivers it.

This week’s decision to sack the long-serving trio of Charlie Nicholas Phil Thompson and Matt Le Tissier is said to have prompted Jeff Stelling, the show’s host, to consider his own position ahead of the English Premier League’s return in a fortnight. When it launched in the 1990s, few could have predicted that a presenter and three pundits watching and commenting on matches the viewer cannot see would become such a phenomenon. It remains as popular as ever in homes and pubs across the country at 3pm on a Saturday but the axeing of the three former players will have come as a surprise to most of its established following. No-one is irreplaceable, but if the peerless Stelling quits, Sky might just have made a huge blunder.

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