It's a sad day for football viewers, as Jeff Stelling has announced he will leave Sky Sports and Soccer Saturday at the end of the season - but he has made it clear that the decision was his own, and that he was not forced out by Sky.
He made the announcement on the show ahead of Saturday's 3pm kick-offs.
Jeff Stelling to leave the 'best job' in football at Soccer Saturday
Jeff Stelling has become synonymous with Saturday afternoon football, in his iconic role as the host of Soccer Saturday, which he has held for 27 years.
He has revealed that the 2021/22 season will be his last as host of the Saturday afternoon show but, unlike his old hosting buddies Phil Thompson, Matt Le Tissier and Charlie Nicholas, he said the decision was entirely his own, with not a hint of a push from Sky.
🚨 | Jeff Stelling announces that he is leaving Soccer Saturday at the end of the season pic.twitter.com/2WvGmsJVa0
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) October 30, 2021
I've got some team news from Sky Sports and Soccer Saturday to tell you about. I'll have been at Sky for 30 years next year - I know it's hard to believe with these young looks!
I've come to the incredibly difficult decision that this will be my final season. It's been my decision, there's been no pressure at all, Sky have been absolutely brilliant with me - as they always have done.
I'm not intending to retire, that's up to the people out there really. It's time to let somebody else have a go at what is the best job in the world. After all, I wouldn't want to get to the stage where I'm calling Raith Rovers "Roath Ravers".
I'm going to be here until May and then I'll be leaving the show and the company. That's about seven and a half months of Saturday afternoon parties. So let's get this party going!
Soccer Saturday has taken on iconic status in the UK, due to the ban on broadcasting 3pm kick-offs, with the chaos of the studio creating a casual atmosphere for viewers to keep up to date with the latest scores up and down the country.
The craic between Jeff Stelling and the various pundits has played a crucial role in that - but Stelling was saddened when Nicholas, Le Tissier, and Thompson were let go by Sky. At the time, Stelling said:
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.
It will be strange watching Soccer Saturday without any of the old familiar faces next year, as the show enters a new era without Jeff Stelling and co.