Fallout from Lineker suspension continues as MOTD commentators boycott BBC show
aturday’s Match Of The Day will go ahead without a presenter, pundits and several regular commentators, following the fallout over Gary Lineker’s suspension from the BBC show.
Former England footballers and MOTD regulars including Alan Shearer and Ian Wright previously announced they would be boycotting the show, in solidarity with Lineker.
Late on Friday evening several of the show’s commentators shared a joint statement online, announcing they would also be stepping down from Saturday’s broadcast.
“As commentators on MOTD, we have decided to step down from tomorrow night’s broadcast,” the statement read.
“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.”
The statement was shared by MOTD commentators including Steve Wilson, Conor McNamara, Robyn Rowen and Steven Wyeth.
In a previous statement the BBC said the show would “focus on match action without studio presentation or punditry” saying it understood the position of its presenters.
It comes after Lineker, 62, became embroiled in a row over impartiality after comparing the language used to launch a new Government asylum seeker policy with 1930s Germany on Twitter.
The broadcaster said it had “decided” Lineker would take a break from presenting the highlights programme until an “agreed and clear position” on his use of social media had been reached.
Earlier, BBC director-general Tim Davie – who warned staff about their use of social media when he took on the role at the end of 2020 before guidelines on their use was updated – was asked by BBC News why Lineker had not been sacked.
Mr Davie replied: “Well I think we always look to take proportionate action and that’s what we’ve done.”
He said he would not “add to” the corporation’s current statement on the matter, but that there had been “very constructive discussions”.
Reacting to Shearer and Wright’s boycott, the BBC boss added: “I absolutely respect people’s right to make that decision, and BBC Sport have to look at the programme they will produce for the weekend as normal.”
Before the BBC announcement, former Manchester City defender Micah Richards and ex-footballer Jermaine Jenas – who were both not due to appear this weekend on MOTD – also backed their fellow pundits.
The PA news agency understands the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) will fully support any players who do not want to fulfil media duties with the BBC after Premier League matches in solidarity with Lineker and the other pundits – who are former England international players.
A number of players contacted the PFA seeking advice, and the union has subsequently spoken to all Premier League clubs to establish a collective position.
Announcing the decision regarding Lineker on Friday, a spokesperson for the BBC said the broadcaster had been “in extensive discussions with Gary and his team in recent days. We have said that we consider his recent social media activity to be a breach of our guidelines”.
They continued: “The BBC has decided that he will step back from presenting Match Of The Day until we’ve got an agreed and clear position on his use of social media.
“When it comes to leading our football and sports coverage, Gary is second to none.
“We have never said that Gary should be an opinion-free zone, or that he can’t have a view on issues that matter to him, but we have said that he should keep well away from taking sides on party political issues or political controversies.”
A spokesperson for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said that “individual cases” were a matter for the BBC.