Axed Soccer AM was no longer able to maintain its culture and impact amid changing times and the departure of star presenters, a PR expert said today.
The football show is set to be shelved after almost 30 years as part of a drastic Sky Sports shake-up.
Staff were reportedly told on Tuesday that the show was to wrap up at the end of the current season.
And PR guru Mark Borkowski said the programme – which started in 1995 in the peak of the Cool Britannia and Lads Mags era – could no longer compete in the way it once had due to changing times.
He told MailOnline: ‘Quite simply it ran out of steam. It was very iconic in its day but gradually they have really lost the impact after the departure of stars like Tim Lovejoy and Helen Chamberlain, who really started it and made it a huge success.
Helen Chamberlain (left) and Tim Lovejoy (right) were among the early hosts in the late 1990s
The show made stars of the presenting teams – including popular figure Peter ‘Tubes’ Dale, who is still working on the show full-time. Starting as an assistant producer, he soon became a regular – helped by comical appearances and cult following
The Soccer AM Soccerette was a – now outdated- feature of the show where a young woman modelling a football shirt would appear
‘There has been a lack of promotion of the programme and it has lacked any energy and become quite tired.
‘It’s had to tone down from the Lads Mag era because times are now different.
‘If people are not watching it, it’s because that sort of irreverence is being done by YouTubers now.
‘A lot of celebrities as well are frightened of going into a space – like Soccer Am was – which had a bit of a brash and laddish reputation in case there is backlash.
The show had a number of controversial segments, which were either toned down or dropped
The soccerette was frequently asked innuendo-strewn questions including about relationships
The dated elements of the show have been blamed for its demise as YouTubers create content
Soccerettes shown red card back in 2015
The Soccer AM Soccerette feature was axed in 2015 over its questionable content.
In the segment a woman wearing their team’s football shirt.
During the section the male host would be asked innuendo-strewn questions including their relationship status.
Hollyoaks’ Jennifer Metcalfe, page three model Lucy Pinder and actress Gemma Atkinson were among some of the famous soccerettes who appeared.
Natalie Sawyer, who worked for Sky Sports for 18 years, appeared a few times showing off her support for Brentford.
‘There is also a lot more competition now, so people have a lot more options if they don’t like it anymore.
‘It’s of an age where it can’t be what it wants to be.’
Features on the show when it started have either not dated well or been dropped completely.
Models and young actresses who appeared on it became more famous and Lads Mags favourites.
The Sun claim that bosses have made the decision to axe the popular Saturday morning show, with 10 episodes left before it is taken off air.
A source told the Sun that morale is ‘at an all-time low’ following the ‘bombshell’ announcement which has left staff, who are now facing redundancy in May, ‘raging’.
Saturday Social, which previously aired before Soccer AM, is reportedly going to fill the vacant slot from next season with an aim of targeting younger viewers.
Soccer AM had proven to be a huge hit for Sky since it first hit screens in 1995.
The 90-minute football comedy show includes a variety of segments as well as sitdowns with some of the game’s biggest players and managers.
Russ Williams and Helen Chamberlain were the original hosts, before Tim Lovejoy replaced Williams two years in.
Lovejoy, who hosted it through until 2007 before being succeeded by Andy Goldstein, and later Max Rushden, would regularly cause havoc in one of the many segments he came up with.
Veteran Hollyoaks star Jennifer Metcalfe appeared on the Soccerettes section of the show
Gemma Atkinson was also from the soap and took part in the now-cancelled show feature
Lucy Pinder – a glamour model and former page three girl – was also a guest on the programme
Chantelle Houghton – who won Celebrity Big Brother – was also featured at the height of fame
SOCCER AM HOSTS THROUGH THE YEARS
Russ Williams (1995–96)
Helen Chamberlain (1995–2017)
Tim Lovejoy (1996–2007)
Andy Goldstein (2007–08)
Max Rushden (2008–2015)
Lloyd Griffith (2017–2019)
John Fendley (2015–present)
Jimmy Bullard (2017–present)
At one stage he was offering £5 to any fan who turned up at a match with a ‘Lovejoy is a Legend’ banner – but that was soon abandoned as banners appeared at multiple games and his costs were piling up.
The car park game, fans of the week, and the Soccerette – a feature where a young female modelled a kit of her team – were among the most notable segments.
But Soccerettes as a feature was abandoned in 2015 amid criticism it was exploiting the women involved.
Peter Dale – known as Tubes – also had a regular spot on the programme where he could ask only one question to the studio guests.
The football show is set to be shelved after almost 30 years as part of a drastic Sky Sports shake-up
The show was accused of having a bawdy atmosphere, which in modern times has dated
Tubes would pose his inquiry, usually a comedic one, before shaking his subject’s hand before walking off.
More recent iterations of the show have been hosted by John Fendley, who got involved in 2015 when Rushden left, and former Hull City and Wigan Athletic midfielder Jimmy Bullard, who started in 2017.
Speaking to the Athletic in 2020, Lovejoy revealed that he could no longer watch the show after he left.
‘I stopped watching it when I left, it was too hard to watch it,’ he said.
The most recent version has had Jimmy Bullard (second left) and John Fendley as the hosts
Lovejoy and Chamberlain were huge successes as the show became a must watch
‘I tune in every now and then because Fenners is on it and I want to support him. Again, another crap analogy, it’s like watching your old girlfriend with another man.
‘I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t watch it. So I stopped watching it totally. And then I started tuning in again to watch Fenners, because obviously I worked with him for years and he’s a top bloke.
‘It’s too hard for me because I watch it all and I want to join in with it. I’d really like to input on the show and put stuff on there and I find it too hard.’
Soccer AM went on to become the first live show on Sky to have to go on a broadcast delay due to lewd references and swearing. What started as a three-second delay soon became a 10-second delay.
Sky Sports’ schedule has been subject to drastic change in recent years, with shake-ups to their presenters or shows not uncommon.
Max Rushden partnered Chamberlain from 2008 as the show had huge ratings at one point
Jimmy Bullard interviewed Paul Gascoigne in one of the most recently shown show episodes
Back in 2020 the decision was made to scrap Sunday Supplement, a morning debate show with newspaper journalists about football’s biggest stories.
Soon after Goals on Sunday, a highlights show with Ben Shephard and Chris Kamara, and The Debate, were shelved.
A Sky spokesperson, who spoke to the Sun, said: ‘Soccer AM has played an important role in our coverage of football for the past three decades, and we continually adapt to the evolving needs of our customers.
‘We now go into a period of consultation to discuss the proposed changes with our people.
‘We are unable to provide more detail while these consultations are underway.’
One iconic Soccer AM feature was their ‘Skill Skool’, which showcased the skills of young footballers.
Among those to feature in the segment in their younger years was Chelsea star Raheem Sterling, Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson and West Ham striker Danny Ings.
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