The 49-year-old began presenting for Sky in 2006 after ending a playing career that included stints with Charlton Athletic, Chelsea and Benfica, becoming the face of their Spanish league highlights show ‘Revista De La Liga’ until 2015 before fronting their Football League coverage. Minto also represented West Ham United and Rotherham United in a career spanning 18 years as a professional, and is held in high regard within the industry aafter forging a second career in the Sky studios.
But fewer than 24 hours after Sky confirmed they had axed ‘Soccer Saturday’ presenters Matt Le Tissier, Charlie Nicholas and Phil Thompson, Minto confirmed on Twitter that he was also heading for the exit as part of the broadcaster’s revamp.
"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,” Minto said on Thursday morning.
"While the decision wasn't mine, I leave Sky with nothing but fond memories of covering the EFL, Play-Offs, 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 best for the coming 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 screen very soon."
The cull of football pundits on Sky in cost-cutting measures brought on by the coronavirus pandemic has sparked widespread debate about the motivating factors behind the decision. Le Tissier, Nicholas and Thompson had nearly 50 years’ combined experience with Sky, having been an integral part of the ‘Soccer Saturday’ goals show alongside Jeff Stelling and Paul Merson - who will remain a part of the coverage. Critics on social media suggested that the sackings were made in order to bring in new pundits who are either black or female, a stance that drew a fierce response from former Arsenal and England striker Ian Wright, while others pointed out the regularity with which ‘Soccer Saturday’ featured an all-white, all-male panel last season.
Wright was fiercely critical of those who claimed the decision was racially-motivated, and asked why shouldn’t Sky give opportunities to under-represented groups where possible.
"I've had to pull the car over - the racism is going through the roof today,” Wright said in a video posted on his Twitter account. "Can someone 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 got the sack ... I kiss my teeth.
“What have these guys done? Because a black person or a woman might get the opportunity to do this job on this show? Why are people upset? Alex Scott, for me, is easily one of the best-prepared pundits out there. Easily.
"Micah Richards is the most exciting pundit to hit the scene in years.
"Keep their names out of your stinking unbrushed-teeth mouths."
The former England striker paid tribute to the departing trio, but he asked why Sky’s decision to ‘evolve’ their coverage should trigger responses aimed at the colour of someone’s skin who is not related to the matter.
“These guys - Matt Le Tissier, Charlie Nicholas, Phil Thompson - they’ve had an unbelievable run. It’s been a great show (but) this happens to everybody in the industry,” Wright added.
“This is Sky’s decision to evolve the show, and you know what, I wish them all the best. Yes you can be disappointed that it’s all 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?”
When contacted by The Independent about the decision to axe Le Tissier, Nicholas and Thompson, a Sky spokesman said: “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.”
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