Match of the Day is in MAJOR DOUBT tonight after walkouts

Match of the Day is in MAJOR DOUBT tonight after walkouts

March 11, 2023

Tonight’s episode of Match of the Day is in MAJOR DOUBT as bosses remain locked in talks to see if it can go ahead without commentators after mass walkouts amid Lineker row

  • Chaos has occurred at the BBC after Gary Lineker’s axing from Match of the Day
  • Pundits, commentators, players and managers won’t appear on the programme 
  • Organisers are locked in talks over whether the show can go ahead this evening

Tonight’s Match of the Day is under threat – with beleaguered BBC bosses currently discussing whether they can air the show without commentary.

In the backlash that followed the broadcaster’s dropping of host Gary Lineker, commentators and pundits including Alan Shearer and Ian Wright said they would not work on the Saturday-night staple.

Now Sportsmail understands that the BBC has been unable to secure alternative television commentary for today’s Premier League games and is now considering dropping the show completely from tonight’s schedule.

The development is the latest in an astonishing turn of events after Lineker was effectively suspended by the BBC following a controversial tweet earlier this week in which he likened the Conservative party’s language in regards to their latest migrant policy to something out of Germany in the 1930s

Mark Chapman refused to host Radio 5 Live Sport while presenters Alex Scott and Kelly Sommers joined the boycott, which has seen Football Focus and Final Score canned.

Tonight’s episode of Match of the Day is in major doubt, with organisers locked in talks over whether the show can go ahead following mass walkouts in the wake of Gary Lineker’s axing

The BBC programme is in ‘crisis’ with no presenters, pundits or commentators for the first time in its history after the corporation’s decision to boot Gary Lineker off air led to mass walkouts

There is the prospect that Match of the Day could use interviews with players carried out by Premier League Productions, the competition’s broadcast arm, but bosses are concerned of the optics over matches broadcast in relative silence, other than crowd noise. Players had refused to speak to the BBC in solidarity with Lineker.

A tense and complex situation is known to have caused a split among BBC staff.

Ian Dennis will commentate on the Leeds v Brighton game for Radio 5 Live at 3pm, while it can be reported that Alistair Bruce-Ball will follow suit for the late game between Crystal Palace and Manchester City. It is thought to have been a tough decision for both.

Sportsmail’s Chris Sutton will also appear on the Saturday night 606 phone-in, although it is unclear whether he will be joined by regular co-host Robbie Savage.

A number of staff see a distinction between BBC radio and television. Some feel they have been backed into a corner by the raft of withdrawals and have been placed into a very difficult position. The situation has also impacted on freelancers, who rely on contracts from the broadcaster.

The BBC said Lineker would be stepping back from his Match of the Day duties ‘until we’ve got an agreed and clear position on his use of social media’.

Ian Wright (centre) and Alan Shearer (right) both confirmed they will not be appear on Match of the Day after Lineker was temporarily dropped from BBC’s popular football programme


The punditry duo took to social media on Friday to confirm they were boycotting Saturday night programme – causing fellow pundits, commentators, managers and players to follow suit

A well-placed insider described the presenters’ mutiny as a ‘proper BBC crisis’. 

In the wake of the mass boycotts, the BBC confirmed it was unable to find a presenter to fill the vacant hot seat on Friday, and with no top commentators the corporation may have to rely on the Premier League’s world feed service.

Regular Match of the Day commentator Steve Wilson said he and other talking heads have vowed not to participate in the next programme. He said: ‘As commentators on MOTD, we have decided to step down from [Saturday] night’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.’

He added: ‘In the circumstances, we do not feel it would be appropriate to take part in the programme.’

Presenter Alex Scott (above) stepped down from her role on Football Focus in solidarity with Lineker, causing the BBC to cancel the programme as Kelly Sommers also joined the boycott

Lineker, who arrived at the King Power to watch Leicester on Saturday following his temporary axing, was told that he either had to stop his politicised tweeting or quit the BBC altogether

Cancelling the programme altogether would put the BBC in breach of a £70million-a-year contract with the Premier League.

‘As it stands I think anything is possible,’ a senior figure from the Match of the Day team told Sportsmail on Friday night, an hour before the BBC confirmed the programme would go ahead in a statement released at 9.15pm.

Despite pushing for Match of the Day to go ahead, the sheer number of walkouts has cast major doubt over the feasibility of airing the programme.

Meanwhile, Lineker was spotted arriving at the King Power Stadium on Saturday afternoon, ready to watch his boyhood club Leicester face off against Chelsea. 

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