Jeff Stelling gutted after ‘best mates’ sacked by Sky Sports in pundit overhaul

Jeff Stelling has paid a heartfelt tribute to Matt Le Tissier, Charlie Nicholas and Phil Thompson after the trio were axed by Sky Sports.

Le Tissier, Nicholas and Thompson were famous faces on Soccer Saturday which has been one of the most popular football shows in the UK for a number of years.

But the broadcast giant has been forced to cut staff numbers recently, and the three pundits were sacked on Tuesday.

The popular pundits, all of whom are former footballers, have been working for the TV giant for close to 50 years between them.

And Stelling, who presents the show, has hailed the trio for playing their part in making Soccer Saturday what it is today.

He wrote on Twitter: "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."

Stelling was responding to Le Tissier, who confirmed his departure on social media.

The Southampton legend was quick to give his verdict following the news, taking to Twitter to thank fans for their support over the years.

He said: "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 which include @CazzaEccles @CarlyBassett @tvtrevstats amongst many others, good luck all have a lovely day."

And former Liverpool captain Phil Thompson also posted a farewell statement on Twitter.

He wrote: "I’ve had a great 22 years with Sky Sports . Enjoyed every minute with some amazing people on the show and behind the scenes which made it the iconic show it is today. Good luck to Sky, Jeff, Merse and the new gang on Soccer Saturday."

Sky Sports confirmed the news on Wednesday night and said: “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.”

Le Tissier had come under fire recently for sharing his thoughts on coronavirus and the government response on social media in recent weeks.

He urged fans to “look beyond the headlines and government propaganda” in a lengthy post on Twitter.

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There was also controversy after he wore a Black Lives Matter badge on air despite claiming on social media that he did not necessarily agree with the movement.

Nicholas, who starred for Arsenal during the 1980s, also seemed to be a hit with viewers, who delighted in his on-screen banter with Stelling.

Thompson, who won 16 major titles with the Reds, is the third high-profile member of the team to be given the boot.

It remains to be seen who is brought in to replace them, but it is certainly an intriguing move by Sky, with a big shake-up of the show appearing to be in the offing.

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