April 14. 2024. 5:40

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Gary Lineker: Other presenters pull out amid fallout from Match of the Day suspension

The fallout from the BBC’s suspension of Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker has deepened after the presenters of BBC Football Focus and Final Score announced they were pulling out of their Saturday shows.

Match of the Day will be broadcast without presenters, pundits or its usual commentators this weekend after host Lineker was suspended from the BBC for breaching impartiality guidelines after criticising the government’s asylum policies.

The BBC took the decision to remove its highest-paid presenter from its flagship football show after he was criticised by Tory MPs and the rightwing media.

His suspension immediately led to displays of solidarity from Lineker’s co-hosts Ian Wright and Alan Shearer, who publicly announced that they would not be turning up to present Saturday’s show.

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Alex Scott said she will not present Football Focus on Saturday amid reports the BBC has pulled the show.

In a tweet, she said: “I made a decision last night that even though I love my show and we have had an incredible week winning an SJA 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.”

Presenter Kelly Somers also said she would not be hosting Football Focus. She tweeted: “Just to confirm I won’t be on BBC television today.”

In a similar vein, Jason Mohammad, presenter of Final Score, said he has pulled out of Saturday’s show. “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,” he tweeted.

Former England footballer Wright has said on his podcast that he is “gone” if the BBC “get rid” of Gary Lineker. In an episode of Wrighty’s House, aired on Friday before Lineker was told to step back from presenting Match Of The Day, Wright called the tweet row “the perfect distraction” for the government.

He added: I’ll tell you something. If they do – the BBC get rid of Gary Lineker – I’m out, I’m gone. I’m not staying there. On his own platform he should be able to say what he wants to say.”

Elsewhere, the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), the footballers’ union, announced players will not be asked to take part in BBC interviews for Match of the Day on Saturday night.

“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,” the PFA said.

Former BBC director general Greg Dyke said the BBC has undermined its own credibility with its decision to stand Lineker down because it will be viewed as having bowed to government pressure.

Dyke told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme: “There is a long-established precedent in the BBC that is that if you’re an entertainment presenter or you’re a football presenter, then you are not bound by those same rules.

“The real problem of today is that the BBC has undermined its own credibility by doing this because it looks like – the perception out there – that the BBC has bowed to government pressure. And once the BBC does that, then you’re in real problems.”

However, Richard Ayre, former controller of editorial policy at the BBC, has said the broadcaster’s reputation is “bigger and more important” than any individual, including Lineker.

He told BBC Breakfast on Saturday: “He’s [Lineker] terrific and it will be very sad if he goes, but frankly the BBC and its reputation is bigger and more important than any individual, even Gary. – Guardian