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BBC One broadcasts stripped back Match of the Day without Gary Lineker


BC One broadcast a stripped back version of Match of the Day on Saturday night after Gary Lineker was stood down as presenter.

The corporation’s 59-year-old flagship sports show was slashed to just a quarter of its scheduled running time from 80 to 20 minutes.

It ran without a host, pundits or commentary after a mass boycott by big-name presenters and footballers.

Players and managers of the 12 clubs which had fixtures did not put themselves up for post-match interviews.

The mutiny is expected to affect Sunday’s coverage as pundit Jermain Defoe announced he was standing down from Match of the Day 2.

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The BBC announced on Friday that it was temporarily removing Lineker from presenting duties for posting tweets that breached impartiality guidelines.

It sparked a backlash from fellow pundits and presenters, with Ian Wright and Alan Shearer leading the list of names to show solidarity with Lineker and withdrawing from Saturday’s broadcast.

A day of scheduling chaos saw Football Focus replaced with an old episode of Bargain Hunt while The Repair Shop was shown instead of Final Score.

The row was sparked after Lineker had attacked the Government’s migration policy – and its plans for those crossing the Channel in small boats.

The 62-year-old star tweeted: “There is no huge influx. We take far fewer refugees than other major European countries.

“This is just an immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s.”

BBC Director General Tim Davie last night insisted the Gary Lineker row was “not about left or right”.

He said: “We made decisions, and I made decisions, based on a real passion about what the BBC is and it’s difficult.

“It’s this balance between free speech and impartiality.

“I honestly do not believe, despite a lot of the commentary, that this is about left or right – it’s about our ability.

“We are fierce champions of democratic debate, free speech, but with that comes the need to create an impartial organisation.”

Asked if he had buckled under pressure from the Government and right-wing press, Mr Davie said: “Absolutely not.”

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