BBC crisis deepens as players and commentators abandon MOTD in Lineker fallout
onight’s Match of the Day broadcast will feature no player interviews as the fallout continues over the decision to take Gary Lineker off air.
The crisis engulfing the BBC’s flagship sports programme deepened on Saturday morning after commentators joined presenters and pundits in opting out of Saturday’s show.
Football Focus presenter Alex Scott has also pulled out of hosting the Saturday lunchtime preview show.
It follows Lineker, 62, being taken off air for refusing to apologise over comments he made comparing the Government’s language over asylum seekers with that of 1930s Germany.
The Professional Footballers Association, the union which represents Premier League players, released a statement affirming their support for those refusing to appear on tonight’s broadcast.
It read: “We have been informed that players involved in today’s games will not be asked to participate in interviews with Match of the Day.
“The PFA have been speaking to members who wanted to take a collective position and to be able to show their support for those who have chosen not to be part of tonight’s programme.
“During those conversations we made clear that, as their union, we would support all members who might face consequences for choosing not to complete their broadcast commitments. This is a common sense decision that ensures players won’t now be put in that position.”
Pundits Ian Wright and Alan Shearer, plus several others who regularly appear on the show, were quick to back Lineker in the row by refusing to appear on Saturday.
The broadcast is still set to take place without any presentation and world-feed commentators will have to be used after commentator Steve Wilson confirmed the BBC team’s decision not to take part.
He tweeted: “As commentators on MOTD, we have decided to step down from tomorrow night’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.”
The BBC’s lunchtime Football Focus programme hosted by Scott was also plunged into crisis when she and reporter Kelly Somers confirmed they would be opting out two hours before the live show began.
Scott stated: “I made a decision last night that even though I love my show and we have had an incredible week winning a [Sports Journalism Award] for Football Focus that it doesn’t feel right for me to go ahead with the show today. Hopefully I will be back in the chair next week…”