The BBC has found itself at the centre of a crisis after its decision to suspend Gary Lineker as Match of the Day presenter has sparked outrage. A number of the former Tottenham Hotspur footballer’s colleagues have walked out from the show in solidarity.
Lineker had been taken off of BBC’s flagship Premier League highlights show on Friday following a contentious tweet he made in reaction to the government’s Illegal Migration Bill. The broadcaster said it will hold “extensive discussions” with the 62-year-old.
Following the decision, a number of Gary Lineker’s BBC colleagues have decided to step down from Match of the Day in solidarity until the host is reinstated. The likes of Newcastle United legend Alan Shearer, and ex-Crystal Palace footballer Ian Wright have decided to boycott the programme.
A BBC spokesperson said in a statement: “Some of our pundits have said that they don’t wish to appear on the programme while we seek to resolve the situation with Gary. We understand their position and we have decided that the programme will focus on match action without studio presentation or punditry.”
Former Arsenal Women’s and England Lionesses star Alex Scott has also decided to temporarily walk away from her Football Focus hosting duties. This had led to the programme now no longer airing on Saturday with pundits Glenn Murray and Anita Asante also withdrawing.
It is not only pundits who have made the decision to stand up for Gary Linekar by stepping aside for Saturday’s Match of the Day episode. BBC commentators who provide their coverage of Premier League games for the programme week in, week out have decided to step down this weekend.
BBC commentator Steve Wilson posted: “As commentators on MOTD, we have decided to step down from (Saturday’s) broadcast. We are comforted that football fans who want to watch their teams should still be able to do so, as management can use World Feed commentary if they wish - however, in the circumstances, we do not feel it would be appropriate to take part in the programme.”
It is also understood Premier League football players have been granted permission by the Professional Footballers’ Association to not fulfil their BBC media interview obligations. Here is a complete rundown of all the pundits who have walked away from their Match of the Day duties this weekend in support of the former England striker.
BBC pundits boycotting Match of the Day and other BBC shows to support Gary Lineker
- Ian Wright - posted on Twitter: “Everybody knows what Match of the Day means to me, but I’ve told the BBC I won’t be doing it tomorrow. Solidarity."
- Alan Shearer - posted on Twitter: “I have informed the BBC that I won’t be appearing on MOTD tomorrow night.”
- Alex Scott - posted a GIF of Bernie Sanders on Twitter saying: “Nah! Not me”.
- Micah Richards - former Manchester City and Aston Villa footballer posted on Twitter: “I was not due to be working on MOTD tomorrow, but if I was, I would find myself taking the same decision that @IanWright0 & @alanshearer have.”
- Jermaine Jenas - former Queens Park Rangers and Nottingham Forest footballer tweeted: “Been on air with the one show. I wasn’t down to be doing match of the day tomorrow, but if I was I would have said no and stood with my fellow pundits and @GaryLineker.”
- Mark Chapman
- Glenn Murray - former Bouremouth and Brighton and Hove Albion footballer walked out of BBC’s Football Focus alongside Alex Scott.
- Anita Asante - former Chelsea and England Women’s footballer joined Alex Scott by stepping aside from BBC’s Football Focus.
- Jason Mohammad - the host of BBC’s Final Score tweeted: “As you know, Final Score is a TV show very close to my heart. However - I have this morning informed the BBC that I will not be presenting the show this afternoon on BBC One.”