After nearly 30 years on air, Soccer AM will be axed by Sky Sports at the end of the season. An institution to many, the programme has been a regular fixture of the broadcaster’s Saturday morning schedule for generations of football fans - sometimes for better, sometimes for worse.
In recent years, the show’s current Jimmy Bullard-fronted iteration has often fielded criticism for failing to live up to the standard set by its heyday under Helen Chamberlain and Tim Lovejoy, but nonetheless it remains a firm favourite to many, and will be sorely missed by an army of loyalists.
It also means that Sky now have a great hulking void of television to fill on a Saturday. And that’s where we come in. Fear not, folks, for the team at our sister title 3 Added Minutes has set themselves away with the task of cooking up the ideal replacement that can assume, and dare we say, surpass, Soccer AM’s legendary mantle.
And so, without further ado, here are seven of our very best pitches. Sky Sports, you’re welcome:
A brand new gameshow in which contestants work as a team to make their way from the ground floor to the rooftop helipad of a set designed to look like Nakatomi Plaza. Along the way, they must bid to keep their contingent, and their prize fund, intact by completing various challenges and tests of mental fortitude.
The twist? Sean Dyche is crawling around in the air vents sporting nothing but a white vest (and, mercifully, undergarments) and a paintball gun. He could ambush you at any time, and if he hits you with one of his pellets, you’re out of the game. Think The Crystal Maze meets Predator meets Art Attack. Yippee Ki-Yay!
Ready, Steady, Steve Cook!
Does anybody actually watch these Saturday morning cooking shows? We’re not too sure, but they keep on getting commissioned, so they must appeal to some target demographic or other.
Earlier in the season, Nottingham Forest defender Steve Cook described his dream post-match meal to Sky Sports thusly: “I’m not a massive foodie. I’m a very plain eater. I always stick to a margherita pizza. It’s nice and easy to eat. Literally, no spice, nothing, just plain cheese and tomato.”
Our pitch, therefore, is very simple. Every week, a different celebrity chef makes Steve a brand new meal that he’s never had before, and the centre-back has to tell them whether or not he likes it. The series finale would just be him eating a Carolina Reaper pepper, and then an hour and a half of us all watching him have a mental breakdown.
Roy Hodgson’s Tetris Hour
We make Roy Hodgson play Tetris for an hour every Saturday morning and track his progress over the course of the season. Even without the addition of television cameras, this could be an important venture for medical science.
Every week, Jack Grealish reads a classic novel, and then is asked to recount it to the best of his ability without any notes, sharing not just its major plot points, but also how it made him feel. First episode is David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest.
Premier League Detectives
For this entry, we turn to our old friend Chat GPT, the AI chat bot. I asked the computer to come up with the plot of a new Saturday morning cartoon show starring Graham Potter, David Moyes, Eddie Howe, Steve Cooper, and Thomas Frank as a group of detectives who solve spooky mysteries. This is what it responded with...
‘Title: Premier League Detectives
‘Premise: Graham Potter, David Moyes, Eddie Howe, Steve Cooper, and Thomas Frank are not just talented football coaches, but also skilled detectives who team up to solve spooky mysteries that occur in the Premier League.
‘Plot: Each episode of the show follows the five coaches as they investigate a different case, which involves mysterious happenings in and around the stadiums of the Premier League. From ghostly apparitions to unexplained disappearances, the coaches are always on the case to uncover the truth and solve the mystery.
‘In one episode, the Premier League Detectives investigate a series of strange occurrences at a stadium that is rumoured to be haunted by the ghost of a former player. The coaches use their knowledge of the game and their detective skills to uncover the truth behind the haunting and put the ghost to rest.
‘In another episode, the detectives are called in to investigate the disappearance of a star player just days before a big match. The coaches use their connections and investigative skills to follow a trail of clues that leads them to the player’s whereabouts and a shocking revelation about who was behind the kidnapping.
‘Throughout the series, the Premier League Detectives face a variety of challenges, from encountering dangerous villains to navigating the politics of the league. But with their collective skills and determination, they always manage to crack the case and save the day.
‘Along the way, the show teaches important life lessons about teamwork, problem-solving, and perseverance, all while providing plenty of thrilling mysteries and exciting action for kids to enjoy on a Saturday morning.’
I’d watch that. You’d watch that.
Repeats of Takeshi’s Castle
Give. The. People. What. They. Want. And hey, if you’re not convinced that it’s got enough football-related content, just get Ally McCoist to overdub the commentary. Tell us that wouldn’t break all kinds of ratings records.
Caravanning with Thomas Gravesen
No? Arm Wrestling with Chas and Dave? No? Inner-City Sumo? No? Monkey Tennis?
This article originally appeared on our sister title 3 Added Minutes, your new source of football writing that ranges from the sublime to the stupid of the beautiful game.