The cult football program Soccer AM, which has been on air for nearly 30 years and has only a few episodes left, has been axed by Sky.
After being a major television favourite during its early days with Tim Lovejoy and Helen Chamberlain at the helm, the long-running Sky program has experienced declining ratings in recent years with numerous casting changes. As a result, it is now scheduled to be removed from screens.
On Tuesday, employees were notified that the show would be cancelled, and a round of redundancies is also expected to take effect at the end of the season.
The Saturday Social, an alternative program that was previously aired at 9:30 am, will replace Soccer AM and now be broadcast an hour later.
A Sky spokesperson 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.”
According to reports, current hosts John Fendley and Jimmy Bullard, are “fuming” at the announcement.
One source noted: “It was a complete bombshell. Morale is at an all-time low, they are raging. It’s going to be an interesting watch over the next few weeks.”
Originally launched in 1995, Soccer AM had Russ Williams and Helen Chamberlain as its first hosts. Tim Lovejoy replaced Williams just two years into the show’s run.
Over the years, Andy Goldstein, Max Rushden, and Lloyd Griffiths have all taken on presenting roles. Chamberlain continued to host the show until 2017, and the current team includes Fendley and former Premier League midfielder Bullard.
Several segments on the program became cult favorites, including Fans of the Week, the Car Park Game, and the Soccerette. However, the latter was dropped in 2015 after receiving significant criticism.
The Crossbar Challenge was another popular segment in which teams were visited in the lead-up to Saturday’s broadcast, and a number of professionals attempted to strike the crossbar from distance. The program also featured regular celebrity guests, and host Tubes, whose real name is Peter Dale, gained fame through the show.
Despite its initial huge popularity, Soccer AM has experienced a decline in interest in recent years, with decreasing ratings and shorter broadcast times. Between 1995 and 2001, the program aired for an average of 240 minutes, but since then, it has steadily decreased to a current 90-minute broadcast.
The cancellation of Soccer AM is the latest in a series of decisions made by Sky executives in recent years to remove various programs from their lineup. Shows like The Sunday Supplement, Goals on Sunday, and The Debate have also been axed.