The BBC decision to remove Gary Lineker from his presenting role in a row over impartiality has impacted some of BBC Sport’s biggest programme brands this weekend.
On Friday evening, the BBC announced it had told Gary Lineker to step back from presenting Match of the Day until agreement is reached on his use of social media. The corporation said it regarded Lineker’s “recent social media activity to be a breach of our guidelines”.
The BBC also said: “We have never said that Gary should be an opinion free zone, or that he can’t have a view on issues that matter to him, but we have said that he should keep well away from taking sides on party political issues or political controversies.”
However, on Saturday the row escalated, with other BBC Sport presenters, pundits and commentators expressing solidarity with Gary Lineker and withdrawing their services for programmes due to air during the day on BBC TV and radio.
Schedule disruption on Saturday
- Football Focus was replaced by an edition of Bargain Hunt.
- Final Score was replaced by an edition of The Repair Shop.
- Match of the Day was reduced from one hour twenty minutes, to just twenty minutes. There was no studio-based presentation. The short programme showed commentator-less highlights of Premier League matches.
- BBC Radio 5 Live was also impacted. Colin Murray’s Fighting Talk was replaced by a podcast. Podcasts also replaced the early hours of 5 Live Sport but the station managed to get Leeds v Brighton on air at 3pm – with Ian Dennis commentating and anchoring a Saturday goals service from Elland Road, plus reporters.
Dennis commented on air: “It’s also a very difficult time for BBC Sport, and for those who work in the department. We all hope that that gets resolved.
“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.”
- Sportsworld on the BBC World Service was another casualty of the BBC/Lineker row.
- In Scotland, Sportsound and Sportscene were affected.
- BBC Radio Wales’ football programme Call Rob Phillips show was replaced by repeat of a classical concert celebrating 100 years of the BBC in Wales.
PICTURED: Match of the Day opening titles. COPYRIGHT: BBC.