‘If there’s a reason to complain, someone will’: Soccer AM star Rocket says cult show couldn’t continue because modern day audiences get offended too easily as TV bosses push for ever-more ‘inclusive’ football shows
The Daily Mail
Soccer AM star Rocket has said he ‘doubts’ the cult show could have continued in the current climate because people ‘get offended too easily’ – after it emerged the programme was being axed after almost 30 years.
The Saturday morning football staple is set to be shelved as part of a drastic Sky Sports shake-up, with staff reportedly told yesterday it was to wrap up at the end of the current season.
Fans have complained about Sky’s decision to axe the series, with one accusing the broadcaster of overseeing an ‘ultra woke’ regime that jarred with the programme’s freewheeling and sometimes controversial approach.
Rocket, who was on the show from 1998 to 2017, said he and his fellow presenters delighted in ‘pushing the boundaries’ and recalled being regularly summoned by bosses ‘for something that had been inappropriate or he pushed it too far’.
‘Sadly I don’t know if that show can exist now because if there’s a reason to complain about something, generally someone will. They’ll take offence,’ he told The Sun. ‘There’s so much you could have taken offence at. We pushed it to the line a lot of the time.’
But he insisted him and his colleagues’ antics were always ‘tongue in cheek’ and said what really attracted viewers was the chance for some light-hearted escapism.
‘We were a bunch of blokes just messing about on a Saturday morning,’ he added. ‘I think all we wanted to do was make people smile.’
Soccer AM regular Chris Kamara lamented the show’s demise yesterday, tweeting: ‘Just heard that @SoccerAM is finishing at the end of the season.
‘I had 14 years of going through Premier League & @EFL clubs dressing rooms. Training with Clubs for features & basically having a laugh.
‘Fun part of my time at Sky.’
Today John Fendley, who currently presents the show with Jimmy Bullard, said none one had yet been informed of any redundancies.
He wrote on Instagram: ‘There’s been a lot of coverage in the past few days about Soccer AM so I wanted to clarify the situation.
‘Sky has made a proposal about next season and we will go into a consultation process. No decisions have been made at this stage and no one has been made redundant.
PR experts have said that the programme – which was first broadcast in 1992 during the height of the ‘Lads’ Mag’ era – could no longer compete in the way it once had due to change in public attitudes.
It had been forced to drop some of the more well-known features that made it such a hit with viewers, including the ‘Soccerettes’ segment, which involved young models and actresses appearing in a football shirt.
It was pulled in 2015 after it triggered claims that they were being exploited or mocked by the ‘laddish banter’.
The show also saw an exodus of popular presenters who fronted the show and made it such a success, such as Tim Lovejoy and Helen Chamberlain.
Experts cited the impact of YouTube too, with viewers switching to social media sites to watch the sort of the jokes and skits similar to those performed on the programme.
PR guru Mark Borkowski, 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.
‘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 and 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 any more.
‘It’s of an age where it can’t be what it wants to be.’