ROY KEANE, Micah Richards and Patrice Evra will headline Sky Sports’ punditry team for the new season.
But following the sacking of Matt Le Tissier, Charlie Nicholas and Phil Thompson, a new line-up has been announced for Soccer Saturday.
Fan favourite Adebayo Akinfenwa, Tim Sherwood, Robbie Fowler and Joleon Lescott will all join host Jeff Stelling – who admitted he could leave the show – to call the action.
Regulars Paul Merson, Chris Kamara, Sue Smith, Clinton Morrison, Alan McInally and Glen Johnson will also be on screens.
Jamie Carragher, Gary Neville, Graeme Souness and Jamie Redknapp will continue to analyse and provide insight on matchdays too.
Sky Sports will show the first live game on the season tomorrow, when Liverpool host Championship winners Leeds at Anfield.
Sky Sports Director of Football Gary Hughes said: “With fans currently unable to attend matches in person, it is imperative we provide the best possible TV and digital coverage to our audiences.
“Confirming Patrice, Micah and Roy to add to our existing line-up of award-winning pundits is brilliant news and we will strive to take the game closer to fans than ever before with increased live action, highlights and analysis.”
SunSport told you last month how the trio of Le Tissier, Nicholas and Thompson had been given the axe.
It was seen as a shock move by Sky, who had been aggressively cutting staff numbers.
Sky told SunSport: “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.”
Confirming his dismissal, Le Tissier – who joked he was keeping his “chins” up after being sacked – wrote on Twitter: “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.”
It is thought that with the show’s panel being made up entirely of white men of a certain age, Sky felt that Soccer Saturday’s existing format had run its course.
Stelling appeared gutted by the news, writing on Twitter in reply to Le Tissier: “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.”
Former Southampton superstar and England ace Le Tissier, 51, was a hugely popular member of Stelling’s Saturday team.
And “Le God” formed a brilliant relationship with Liverpool’s former captain and assistant manager Thommo, 66, and ex-Celtic and Arsenal star Nicholas, 58.
The three men clocked close to 50 years service between them with Sky and will be greatly missed by the millions of armchair football fans who tuned into the long-running Gillette Soccer Saturday show.
But the new line-up promises to showcase a host of new talent who seem more than capable of taking their place.