Jeff Stelling says women 'reluctant' to star on Soccer Saturday and admits he considered quitting after pals were axed
JEFF STELLING believes women are deterred from featuring on Soccer Saturday over fears of social media abuse.
The 65-year-old also considered quitting as host after more than 25 years following the sackings of Matt Le Tissier, Charlie Nicholas and Phil Thompson.
The three men clocked close to 50 years service between them.
Sky Sports announced the controversial decision to revamp the hit football show by switching up the panel with more youthful pundits.
Presenter Alex Scott has been touted to replace them although Sky have yet to settle on a permanent line up.
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Scott was the victim of vile social media abuse following the news and Stelling believes women would be reluctant to be on the show.
He told the Guardian: "Oh God, yes. The response on social media is horrendous.
"Whether it be Sue Smith or Alex Scott the criticism is horrendous and totally unjustified.
"When we had Soccer Specials, some of the women who'd come in had been very reluctant.
"They knew what the response would be, regardless of how good they were. There's this blinkered idea – 'It's a woman, what can she know about football?'
"Twenty years ago I was also sceptical.
"But my view has changed and obviously we've had very good reporters like Michelle Owen, Bianca Westwood and Jacqui Oatley. They're really experienced."
Following the news of the sackings, Stelling tweeted: "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."
And when asked on whether he thought about quitting, Stelling responded: "It would be honest to say that.
"Yes, of course. Whether I want to effectively start again is another question.
"We've done it with the first team we had – Bestie [George Best], Marshy [Rodney Marsh], Frank [McLintock] and Clive [Allen] and then we built another team [with his three sacked friends and Paul Merson]. I'm 65. I've had a fantastic run."
Roy Keane, Micah Richards and Patrice Evra are the other names touted to feature this season on the show.
Regulars Paul Merson, Chris Kamara, Sue Smith, Clinton Morrison, Alan McInally and Glen Johnson will also be on screens.
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