‘Soccer AM can’t be what it wants to be’: PR experts say Sky’s axed football show ‘ran out

Axed Soccer AM was no longer able to maintain its 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 they 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.

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The Soccer AM Soccerette was a – now outdated-  feature of the show where a young woman modelling a football shirt would appear

The hit show was once the highlight of football fans’ Saturday morning TV and hosted stars such as James Corden (pictured)

‘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 ad laddish reputation in case there is backlash.

‘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.’

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.

The football show is set to be shelved after almost 30 years as part of a drastic Sky Sports shake-up

The most recent version has had Jimmy Bullard (second left) and John Fendley as the hosts


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)

Soccer AM has proven to be a huge hit for Sky since it first hit screens in 1995. 

The 90-minute football comedy show include 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.

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. 

Soccerette as a feature was abandoned in 2015 amid criticism it was exploiting the women involved.  

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. 

Lovejoy and Chamberlain were huge successes as the show became a must watch

‘I stopped watching it when I left, it was too hard to watch it,’ he said. 

‘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.


Should Soccer AM have been axed?

  • YES – It is past its best 323 votes
  • NO – Bring it back! 182 votes

‘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.

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.

Max Rushden partnered Chamberlain from 2008 as the show had huge ratings

‘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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