A pundit boycott resulted from the BBC’s decision to remove Lineker from its premier football highlights programme, and producers were forced to scramble to save the programme.
Up until Friday lunchtime, the BBC and the hosts had planned to continue with Match of the Day as usual. Nevertheless, the broadcaster made an attempt to convince Gary Lineker to accept a solution that he found intolerable. After receiving a rejection from several industry leaders, he left the company scurrying to locate a replacement staff as late as Friday evening.
According to sources close to the situation, Lineker would have been rightfully perceived as “humiliating himself” if he had made a public statement that essentially amounted to an apology and a promise to use social media more responsibly, as was requested by the BBC hierarchy above BBC Sport, according to information obtained by The Independent.
As a result, the BBC decided to remove him from Match of the Day. Lineker had already spoken to Ian Wright, the former Arsenal striker, who promised the host that he would support him wholeheartedly if anything changed and be ready to leave the programme.
The sole adjustment made for the scandal was for the presenters to arrive at different studio doors on Saturday due to the anticipated presence of photographers. The programme crew continued with their regular run-through meeting on Friday afternoon despite the controversy. At 4:15 PM, when Lineker had already met with BBC hierarchy members above sport, the situation had drastically changed.
Following this, Lineker started telling people that he had been told he wouldn’t be hosting the programme. According to figures around Match of the Day, efforts to save the show were still being made at this point, illustrating a difference in philosophy between BBC Sport and the larger organisation.
Wright had already made up his mind to be unavailable, and he had notified Alan Shearer of this. Shearer shared Wright’s sentiment that he had no other choice. According to two insiders, the entire scenario “shifted in minutes” and may have significantly greater effects on the BBC and Match of the Day. Even though it is currently quite unclear what will happen to the established team and whether this would continue for another week, deciding what to do for Saturday night’s event was a more pressing issue.
Match of the Day was having trouble finding a presenting team as of 6:30 p.m. on Friday after receiving rejections from a number of influential people in the field. Anyone who continues on “would be perceived as a scab and justifiably get pounded on social media,” according to the opinion of one broadcasting official.
It resulted in the BBC announcing at about 9:30 p.m. that the show would go on as scheduled, but with the historically rare circumstance of having no presenter or pundits. The focus of the issue shifted to the role played by Match of the Day’s commentators, stadium reporters, and other members of the production team.
On Saturday night, six Premier League matches will be shown on Match of the Day, but in a remarkable turn of events, all six commentators booked to work the games declared they would be joining the boycott. It would not be proper to participate in the show, the group, which was led by prominent BBC pundit Steve Wilson, who had earlier in the day tweeted his support for Lineker, stated in a statement.
If the Match of the Day producers chooses to use the Premier League’s “Global Feed,” games may still be broadcast with commentary, but players won’t be interviewed—another first. As the PFA voiced their concerns, the BBC notified clubs that they would not ask players to fulfil their broadcast commitments.
This decision was made because a number of players wanted to demonstrate their unity with ex-professionals like Lineker, Wright, and Shearer. “This is a common-sense move that assures players won’t now be put in that position,” the PFA stated in a statement.
The impact from Friday’s pandemonium persisted until Saturday morning, with many believing that the BBC had “unnecessarily pushed itself into a corner,” maybe due to the threat of a long-standing football brand.
In the most recent unusual development, the rebellion against the BBC spread to include Football Focus and Final Score, which made it necessary to axe both shows from the Saturday lineup. It happened at the same time as Alex Scott, Jason Mohammed, and other BBC Sports employees declared they would not go on television. Further affected was BBC Radio 5 Live, which substituted pre-recorded podcasts for three hours of the scheduled live airing.