Match Of The Day To Go Ahead Without Presenter And Pundits, BBC Confirms

Saturday's show will “focus on match action without studio presentation or punditry”.
Gary Lineker
Gary Lineker
Laurence Griffiths - The FA via Getty Images

Saturday’s Match of the Day is to go ahead without presenters and pundits amid the Gary Lineker row, the BBC has confirmed.

A BBC spokesperson said the show will “focus on match action without studio presentation or punditry” after several pundits pulled out of the show.

Following his tweets criticising the government’s immigration policy, Lineker will step back from presenting the flagship football show until he and the BBC have an “agreed and clear position on his use of social media”.

Former players Alan Shearer and Ian Wright announced they would boycott Match Of The Day over the weekend as the BBC faced an unexpected mutiny.

Former Arsenal player Alex Scott appeared to rule herself out of presenting Match Of The Day by posting a GIF with the words “Nah! Not me”, while Micah Richards and Jermaine Jenas also indicated they would not be interested in being pundits on the programme on Saturday.

The BBC spokesperson said: “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.”

The row was sparked by his response on Twitter to a Home Office video in which home secretary Suella Braverman unveiled the government’s plans to stop migrants crossing the Channel on small boats.

The ex-England striker wrote: “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.”

Lineker has since faced criticism from Downing Street, culture secretary Lucy Frazer and Braverman, who accused him of “diminishing the unspeakable tragedy” of the Holocaust.

However, support has come from media figures including Piers Morgan and Sky News commentator Adam Boulton.

Lineker tweeted on Thursday that he was “very much looking forward” to presenting Match Of The Day on Saturday.

He previously told reporters outside his London home that he stood by his criticism of the immigration policy and did not fear suspension by the BBC.

BBC director-general Tim Davie warned staff about their use of social media when he took on the role at the end of 2020, and guidelines around social media use have since been updated.

Staff were told they need to follow editorial guidelines and editorial oversight in the same way as when doing BBC content.

Lineker is a freelance broadcaster for the BBC, not a permanent member of staff, and is not responsible for news or political content so does not need to adhere to the same rules on impartiality.


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