Match of the Day 2’s future uncertain as presenter supports Gary Lineker amidst BBC turmoil
TONIGHT’s Match of the Day 2 hangs in the balance after host Mark Chapman backed Gary Lineker in his row with the BBC.
The Beeb’s sports coverage is already in chaos following the pundit’s criticism of the government’s new Illegal Migration Bill in several controversial tweets.
Gary Lineker is at war with the BBC over impartiality rulesCredit: Getty
Mark Chapman, who is the regular presenter of Match of the Day 2Credit: PA
But the show featuring highlights of Sunday’s Premier League games could now also be under threat.
BBC Radio 5 Live was yesterday forced to cancel its coverage of Saturday’s football after Chapman, 59, and co-presenter Colin Murray, 46, pulled out in support of Lineker, who has refused to back down.
Pundit Jermain Defoe has now also announced he will not appear during tonight’s MOTD2, which is due to air at 10.30pm.
It followed boycotts from other high-profile names, including Ian Wright, Alan Shearer, Alex Scott, Kelly Somers and Jason Mohammed.
Saturday’s TV and radio timetables were changed at the last minute – resulting in Football Focus and Final Score being scrapped from the BBC One schedule.
It came after Lineker was told to step back from hosting MOTD in a row over impartiality.
The show was limited to around 20 minutes and did not include accompanying commentary or analysis due to the broadcaster not having the rights to the Prem’s global commentary feed, according to reports.
The BBC said it would air only “limited sport programming” over the weekend and was “working hard to resolve the situation”.
In a statement, a spokesperson said: “We are sorry for these changes which we recognise will be disappointing for BBC sport fans.”
BBC director-general Tim Davie later apologised personally for the disruption to the sport schedule but insisted he will not resign from his role.
“I would say Gary Lineker is a superb broadcaster. He’s the best in the business, that’s not for debate,” Davie told BBC News.
“As a keen sports fan, I know like everyone that to miss programming is a real blow and I am sorry about that.
“To be clear, success for me is: Gary gets back on air and together we are giving to the audiences that world-class sports coverage which, as I say, I’m sorry we haven’t been able to deliver today.”
Asked if he would leave his job as “there are many people in the UK that simply do not trust you”, Mr Davie said: “Absolutely not.”
On Saturday, Bargain Hunt aired in place of Football Focus on BBC One at noon, while The Repair Shop ran instead of Final Score at 4.30pm.
BBC presenter Murray tweeted that 5 Live’s Fighting Talk was not airing “for obvious reasons” in a decision by the entire team.
Pre-recorded content replaced the live broadcasts, with Kammy & Ben’s Proper Football Podcast aired during Fighting Talk’s slot followed by The Footballer’s Football Podcast, which played on Radio 5 Live when 5 Live Sport would have aired.
The 606 phone-in show with Robbie Savage and Chris Sutton was also pulled, replaced by a Eurovision podcast.
I would say Gary Lineker is a superb broadcaster. He’s the best in the business, that’s not for debate,
Former Arsenal star and England player Scott earlier in the day confirmed she would not host Football Focus, writing on Twitter: “I made a decision last night that even though I love my show and we have had an incredible week winning an SJA (Sports Journalists Association Award) 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.”
Somers also confirmed she would not be presenting any BBC show on Saturday, after former England footballers Shearer and Wright announced on Friday night they would be boycotting MOTD in solidarity with Lineker.
Pundit Glenn Murray pulled out of appearing on Football Focus and Final Score on Saturday while fellow former players Dion Dublin and Leon Osman were among those announcing their absence from coverage.
Mohammad also confirmed he would not be hosting Final Score, tweeting: “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.”
On Friday evening, several Match Of The Day commentators shared a joint statement online, announcing they would be stepping down from Saturday’s broadcast.
The commentators, including Steve Wilson, Conor McNamara, Robyn Cowen and Steven Wyeth, said they did “not feel it would be appropriate to take part in the programme” given the current circumstances.
Ian Dennis, a BBC employee, did cover Leeds against Brighton for 5 Live radio but said it was a “very difficult day”
“We all hope that that gets resolved,” he said at the start of the broadcast.
“Personally, today I found it very difficult. But I’m a BBC staff member, I’m a radio commentator for BBC 5 Live – and today, like every Saturday afternoon, we provide a service to you, the audience.”
Lineker was taken off air for a tweet which compared the language used to launch a new Government asylum seeker policy tackling the evil people traffickers with 1930s Germany.
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.
Former BBC director-general Greg Dyke said the corporation had made a “mistake” and “undermined its own credibility” by taking Lineker off air.
A spokesman for the Professional Footballers’ Association said in a statement on Twitter that they had “been informed that players involved in Saturday’s games will not be asked to participate in interviews with Match Of The Day”.
PM Rishi Sunak said he hopes the free speech row ends “in a timely manner”- but that it was a matter for the BBC, not Government.
It comes as this morning Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer warned: “The BBC has a ten-point plan in relation to impartiality.
“It is absolutely important that it maintains impartiality so that the public retains trust in it.”
The Illegal Migration Bill bans migrants who arrive on small boats from ever settling in Britain.
The legislation will see migrants swiftly detained and removed to either their country of origin or a safe third state within 28 days.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman has repeatedly insisted the plan does not break the law, and said the country’s top legal minds have worked day and night to ensure it’s feasible.
Politicians have lined up to slam Mr Lineker, who is on a taxpayer-funded salary of £1,350,000.
In the Commons, DUP MP Gregory Campbell called for “lefty Lineker” to have his pay docked.
Alex Scott also packed Lineker amid the stormCredit: Getty
Lineker on Match of the DayCredit: BBC
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