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BBC fallout sees pundits, commentators and players boycott MOTD in support of Gary Lineker

The BBC fallout sees pundits, commentators and players boycott MOTD in support of Gary Lineker after he was removed from presenting duties.

After Gary Lineker’s departure, Match of the Day are expected to continue with Saturday night’s show – but without any presenter, pundits, or BBC commentators.

The BBC stated that there wouldn’t be any studio presentation or punditry, and that the show would instead concentrate on match action.

After commentators Steve Wilson and Simon Brotherton, Conor McNamara, Robyn Cowen, followed the likes of Ian Wright, Alan Shearer, who also pulled out of the show.

Lineker was chucked out of the program after he compared the language used in the launch of a new government’s asylum policy to that of 1930s Germany.

The BBC stated that he is withdrawing from Match of the Day, until there is an “agreed position” regarding his social media use.

Ian Wright posted: “Everybody knows what Match of the Day means to me, but I’ve told the BBC I won’t be doing it (Saturday). Solidarity.”

Alan Shearer tweeted: “I have informed the BBC that I won’t be appearing on MOTD (Saturday night)”

A 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.”

Commentator Steve Wilson and others said: “As commentators on MOTD, we have decided to step down from (Saturday’s) broadcast.

“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.”

Sky News has learned that footballers are also planning against being interviewed by the BBC for media interviews after Saturday’s matches are supported by the Professional Footballers Association (PFA).

Many players reached out to the PFA for advice with the union also speaking to Premier League clubs in an effort to reach a common position.

Alex Scott posted a GIF that contained the words “Nah!” ruling herself out.

Jermaine Jenas and Micah Richards also stated that they were not interested in becoming pundits for Match of the Day. 

It caused the hashtags #Solidarity and #MOTD to become the leading trending topic on Twitter. 

“I have informed the BBC that I am very much available for (Saturday’s) #MOTD,” comedian Joe Lycett tweeted, which received tens of thousands of likes.

Journalist Alastair Campbell, whose podcast is produced by Lineker’s firm, thinks BBC chairman Richard Sharp should step in, writing: “Can’t wait for MotD (Saturday). Presented by Richard Sharp with punditry by Robbie Gibb and Isabel Oakeshott.”

Former Newsnight host Emily Maitlis, who was herself reprimanded by the BBC for sharing a tweet the corporation viewed as “controversial”, said the backlash was getting “unmanageably big”.

A Labour Party source said: “Tory politicians lobbying to get people sacked for disagreeing with government policies should be laughed at, not pandered to. The BBC should rethink their decision.”

Philippa Childs, head of Bectu – which represents thousands of BBC workers, described the situation as “deeply concerning” and “will give the appearance that they have bowed to political pressure from ministers”.

A spokesperson for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said “individual cases” were a matter for the BBC.

The BBC published a statement on Friday that it 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,” it read.

An online petition calling for Gary Lineker to be reinstated has gone on to be signed by 100,000 people – and some spoke of cancelling the direct debit for their licence fee.

Simone Gordon, 42, from Lincoln, tweeted “a red line has been crossed this week” and states the BBC was biased in its news coverage.

Another social media user, Steve Ryall, wrote: “Dear BBC, my direct debit for my TV licence comes out of my bank account on the 13th of each month.

“Good luck collecting it henceforth.

“Why on earth would I fund an organisation that doesn’t believe in freedom of speech?”

This is what social media users said BBC fallout sees pundits, commentators and players boycott MOTD in support of Gary Lineker…

@LewisMatthews1: Alternatively Sky Sports put a highlights reel on YouTube at 5:15pm so could watch that and have an early night. No difference.

@ColinJanes: I would like to call on the players and managers of the Premier League to not speak to the BBC after the game in support.

@HollyBaleen: It’s nice to see a bit of proper solidarity for a just cause in this day and age. The BBC have gotten themselves into a huge mess here and they need to start apologising to Lineker asap. #IStandWithGaryLineker

@Jon_Brittan: I should think it would be perfectly reasonable for players and managers to refuse an interview by the BBC, they would just be safeguarding the corporation against the possibility they accidentally say something impartial like “I thought we were the better team”

@mnutd64: I think this whole thing will totally collapse if the MOTD production team walk off tomorrow, unannounced. Just don’t show up. There is strength in numbers

@LestheHammer: I guess this is what’s known as an embarrassing own goal by the Tory-led #BBC

@RedYeadonLeeds: Would be great if players refused interviews tomorrow with the BBC.

@JMC8919: An overlooked fact in this whole mess, is that what @GaryLineker said didn’t break the @BBC impartiality rules! Criticising one party does not show bias towards another. He is being censored for not towing the tory/BBC senior management line #IStandWithGary #MOTD #BBC #BoycottBBC

@chrisblfc27: Maybe it’s becoming a bit clearer as to why Mock the Week was cancelled. #BBC #MOTD

@hawkino1960: Firstly, the controversy surrounding Gary Lineker, and then the BBC’s decision to park the final episode of #WildIsles on the iPlayer. This is not what I would call being politically impartial. The BBC is nothing more than a Tory mouthpiece. #BoycottMOTD

@nmoreland2: Very alarming the number of people using this as a stick to bash the current presenters and pundits on #MOTD and completely missing the point, which is the hypocritical BBC, chaired by a corrupt Tory, will only let employees speak in support of the government and not criticise

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