Match of the Day MELTDOWN!
REVEALED: The BBC’s surprise decision to host Saturday’s Match of the Day without pundits came as Gary Lineker’s co-hosts rallied around the iconic presenter after he was AXED from fronting the show following his ‘Nazi’ tweet storm
- Match of the Day will be broadcast on Saturday evening without presenters
- No pundits will feature either after show hosts rallied around Gary Lineker
- Lineker has been temporarily axed from hosting the show over recent tweets
Match of the Day will be broadcast without a presenter or pundits on Saturday evening following a mass boycott from their star names caused by the BBC’s suspension of Gary Lineker.
At one stage on an extraordinary day the BBC were facing the prospect of scrapping tonight’s programme altogether, as commentators and production staff also threatened to walk out in support of the former England captain.
Cancellation would have put them in breach of a £70million-a-year contract with the Premier League.
‘At it stands I think anything is possible,’ a senior figure from the Match of the Day team told Sportsmail an hour before the BBC confirmed the programme would go ahead in a statement released at 9.15pm.
‘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,’ the statement read.
Ian Wright and Alan Shearer have both confirmed they will not be appear on Match of the Day
Alex Scott has ruled herself out of the running to replace Gary Lineker as host of the show
Ian Wright, Alan Shearer, Alex Scott, Micah Richards and Jermaine Jenas all confirmed via Twitter that they were showing solidarity to their friend Gary Lineker
The decision to suspend Lineker was taken by the BBC’s director-general Tim Davie
‘We understand their position and we have decided that the programme will focus on match action without studio presentation or punditry.’
Former England striker Ian Wright led the fightback in support of Lineker having spoken to his former England team-mate earlier in the day.
Wright was the first pundit to pull out, within minutes of Lineker’s suspension, in what he described as an act of ‘solidarity,’ with fellow regulars Alan Shearer, Micah Richards and Jermaine Jenas then announcing they would not take part in the programme.
Potential replacements for Lineker to present the show also ruled themselves out. Former Lioness Alex Scott appeared to poke fun at the BBC by tweeting an image of left-wing American presidential candidate Bernie Sanders saying ‘Nah! Not me,’ while regular Match of the Day 2 host Mark Chapman is also understood to have declined an invitation to fill in. Gabby Logan was unavailable as she is presenting the BBC’s Six Nations coverage.
There remains the threat that some commentators may refuse to take part. The extent of the backlash from their star talent took the BBC by surprise as no contingency plans had been put in place to cover for Lineker’s absence.
While the decision to suspend Lineker was taken by the BBC’s director-general Tim Davie after their highest-paid star refused to apologise for comparing the government’s asylum policy to Nazi Germany, it fell to the corporation’s sport department to clean up the mess.
Friends and colleagues of Ian Wright backed his decision to shun Match of the Day this week
Fans will have to get used to not seeing the sight of Gary Lineker on Saturday night for the foreseeable future
After being snubbed by their pundits director of sport Barbara Slater, head of TV sport Philip Bernie and Match of the Day editor Richard Hughes spent Friday night in crisis talks with production staff to ensure the programme could go ahead.
While presenting and punditry teams are behind Lineker BBC sources told Sportsmail there is a division among production staff.
Some sympathise with Lineker but others feel he is asking for preferential treatment by effectively demanding he be able to ignore BBC impartiality guidelines.
Another widely held view was that while big-name former players who work for several broadcasters can afford to turn down one appearance, refusing to turn up to work would have been far harder for staff.
Lineker’s tweet this week that has led to his stepping back from fronting Match of the Day
‘MATCH OF THE DAY’ HOST ODDS
Mark Chapman 10/1
Gabby Logan 20/1
Micah Richards 200/1
Roy Keane 250/1
Jamie Carragher 250/1
Gary Neville 250/1
All odds courtesy of PaddyPower
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