sport news Jeff Stelling says women will struggle to appear on his Soccer Saturday show

Soccer Saturday host Jeff Stelling has admitted that it will be difficult for women to appear on the show due to the sickening abuse they receive.

Sky Sports last month caused controversy after sacking regulars Matt Le Tissier, Charlie Nicholas and Phil Thompson in a bid to revamp the weekend programme, but their decision led to a torrent of vile comments on social media after pundit and former Arsenal women's star Alex Scott was earmarked as a successor.

The presenter, who has helmed the show for more than 25 years, said he was concerned about women being deterred from appearing on the panel after hearing of the abuse received by Scott.

Sky Sports' Jeff Stelling has admitted that it will be difficult for women to appear on the show

Sky Sports' Jeff Stelling has admitted that it will be difficult for women to appear on the show

Former Doncaster and England footballer Sue Smith will be on Soccer Saturday this season

Former Doncaster and England footballer Sue Smith will be on Soccer Saturday this season

Sky Sports commentator Bianca Westwood has been commentating on the show for years

Sky Sports commentator Bianca Westwood has been commentating on the show for years

Former Arsenal and England player Alex Scott has received abuse as a pundit on television

Former Arsenal and England player Alex Scott has received abuse as a pundit on television

SKY'S NEW SOCCER SATURDAY LINE-UP

Host: Jeff Stelling

Pundits: Paul Merson, Chris Kamara, Sue Smith, Clinton Morrison, Alan McInally and Glen Johnson.

Special guests throughout the season:  Adebayo Akinfenwa, Tim Sherwood, Robbie Fowler and Joleon Lescott.

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While Scott will not appear on the show the broadcaster has confirmed ex-Doncaster Belles star Sue Smith in their line-up, joining female presenters such as Bianca Westwood. 

Stelling will still be joined by Paul Merson and Chris Kamara, as well as new additions of Clinton Morrison and Glen Johnson.  

But when Stelling was asked by the Guardian whether women would struggle on the show he said: '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.' 

Jeff Stelling (front left) with (back L-R) Charlie Nicolas, Phil Thompson, Matt Le Tissier, Paul Merson and Tony Cottee (front-right)

Jeff Stelling (front left) with (back L-R) Charlie Nicolas, Phil Thompson, Matt Le Tissier, Paul Merson and Tony Cottee (front-right)

Matt Le Tissier was last month axed from his role on Sky Sports' Soccer Saturday show

Matt Le Tissier was last month axed from his role on Sky Sports' Soccer Saturday show

Long-serving pundit and former Liverpool captain Phil Thompson has also left the show

Charlie Nicholas was among those to be dismissed from the panel

Phil Thompson (left) and Charlie Nicholas (right) also got the chop from the programme 

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