Scott Minto has confirmed he has left Sky Sports, as the broadcaster continues to make sweeping changes across its football coverage.
The former West Ham and Chelsea defender had been the face of their LaLiga and EFL coverage for 13 years, but has been told his services are no longer required.
It follows the sacking of Soccer Saturday trio Matt Le Tissier, Charlie Nicholas and Phil Thompson, which were revealed on Wednesday amid growing backlash against the decision, with some claiming it is because they are white men.
Taking to Twitter to announce the news himself, Minto wrote: ‘It is with a heavy heart that after 13 incredible years with Sky Sports I share the news that I will no longer be working with Sky and be part of their ongoing football coverage.
‘While the decision wasn’t mine, I leave Sky with nothing but fond memories of covering the EFL, Play-Off’s, Carabao Cup, Spanish Football, Revista De La Liga, and many more.
‘It has been a truly fantastic experience and a privilege to work with, and alongside, so many talented individuals.
‘I would like to wish the staff and teams at Sky all the very best for the forthcoming season – a season which is set to be truly spectacular both in the Premier League and EFL.
‘I am hugely excited by the future and will be sharing news soon of my next project. I look forward to being back on the screen soon.’
On Wednesday, it was revealed that Le Tissier, Thompson and Nicholas had been told about their own redundancies.
Presenter Jeff Stelling, who will continue on Soccer Saturday, along with Paul Merson, bemoaned the news, writing 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.’
The likes of black ex-footballers Micah Richards, 32, Alex Scott, 35, Clinton Morrison, 41, and Sol Campbell, 45, have been suggested as their possible replacements.
But the changes faced huge criticism, prompting former Arsenal striker Wright, 56, to pull over his car and post a heartfelt video online people to stop their ‘racism’.
Wright said: ‘The racism is going through the roof today. Can somebody just answer me this: What does Micah Richards, Alex Scott, Sol Campbell, Clinton Morrison, or any other black pundit have to do with Sky’s decision to get rid of these guys?
‘All because three middle-aged white guys have got the sack. I kiss my teeth, say raasclaat and all that sort of stuff. What have they done, what have these guys done?
‘Because a black person or a woman might get the opportunity to do this job. They might get a chance to do this show. Why are people upset?’
Sky has only so far issued a statement saying: ‘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.’
It follows a row in June over Black Lives Matter badges after Le Tissier claimed Sky bosses had asked him to wear one on air as the movement gathered pace and the broadcaster used BLM branding across its output amid efforts to improve diversity.
Le Tissier, Thompson and Nicholas were told during a meeting with chiefs yesterday that their time on the show was up, but ex-Arsenal star Paul Merson was retained.
Stelling tweeted: ‘One of my saddest days ever at Sky Sports with the departures of three of my best mates. They have been part of a team that for me was the best.’
Former Liverpool defender Thompson tweeted: ‘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.’
As well as being regulars on Soccer Saturday, Le Tissier, Thompson and Nicholas often featured on the Sky Sports News channel to discuss topics and breaking news.
Scott was trending on Twitter last night as many praised her as one of the most talented football pundits in the UK, but she was also hit with a slew of sexist tweets.
Richards also received the backing of fans thanks to his energetic and erudite views since hanging up his boots and becoming a pundit, but faced some abuse too.
The ex-Manchester City star tweeted yesterday: ‘I saw I was trending today in relation to a brilliant and institutional Sky Sports TV show that I’ve never even been on.
‘The underlying insinuation of tweets immediately linking mine and Alex Scott’s names makes for some uncomfortable truths. Peace and love.’
Scott, who played for Arsenal’s women’s team, has become a prominent pundit in recent years, featuring on Sky Sports and the BBC.
Wright described Scott as ‘one of the best prepared pundits out there’ and praised Richards, who recently became a pundit after the conclusion of his playing career.
He said: ‘Alex Scott, for me, is easily one of the best prepared pundits out there. Easily. Micah Richards, the most exciting pundit to hit the scene in years. Keep their names out of your stinking unbrushed teeth mouths.
‘These guys, Matt Le Tissier, Charlie Nicholas, Phil Thompson, they’ve had an unbelievable run. It’s been a great show.
‘This happens to everybody in the industry. This is Sky’s decision to evolve the show, and you know what, I wish them all the very best.
‘Yes, you can be disappointed that it’s come to an end for those guys. But they’ve done brilliantly. But why does it have to be racially driven?
‘What’s it got to do with Black Lives Matter, or the fact that black people may get an opportunity to get those jobs? What?’.
Scott responded to Wright’s tweet with four heart emojis.
Former Southampton star Le Tissier was a hugely popular member of Stelling’s Saturday team, though has courted controversy several times in the past.
Earlier this season Le Tissier caused a stir when responding to comments regarding his and Sky’s public support for the Black Lives Matter (BLM) campaign, saying he would be evaluating his own personal stance.
Le Tissier says he was asked by bosses to wear the Black Lives Matter badge, but stressed he ‘could not support’ the cause’s anti police and capitalist aims.
The 51-year-old hit out at the movement’s ‘far-left ideology’ – as black footballer Karl Henry also branded the group ‘divisive’.
Earlier this month Le Tissier announced he would be temporarily quitting the social media platform Twitter, saying he had been repeatedly targeted by cyber bullies who were attempting to force him out of his job.
The Southampton legend had been outspoken on social media about various subjects including the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Le Tissier has since returned to Twitter following the news breaking of his departure, writing: ‘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… good luck all have a lovely day.’
He later responded to Ian Wright’s video, saying: ‘Totally agree with you Ian Wright, excellent point well made, racism should be left out of this completely but from one middle aged bloke to another I thought I did a decent job’.
Thompson, Le Tissier and Nicholas regularly traded jibes with each other, while letting out instantly recognisable squeals of delight or anguish at goals or near misses.
It is now expected Sky Sports will bring in new faces for the coming campaign, in order to freshen up the popular football show and keep Soccer Saturday current.