The BBC’s Premier League coverage has been disrupted as broadcasters and pundits protest against Gary Lineker’s suspension.
The British broadcaster took the unprecedented step of suspending Lineker on Friday afternoon over the politically charged tweet, but the decision surprisingly backfired.
In the breathless hours on Saturday, the BBC’s television and radio output was left in tatters as several stars showed their solidarity with Lineker by refusing to work. Here’s what happened:
- BBC1 programmes Focus on football And Final score Changed again and again Bargain hunting And The Repair station After hosts Alex Scott and Jason Mohammed joined the protest.
- On Saturday afternoon UK time, the BBC had planned to show the premier Premier League highlights programme Today’s match Without presenters, pundits and commentators, but insiders increasingly think it will collapse. “I can’t see how I can go out tonight,” said one.
- The BBC Radio 5 Live program was scrapped as live sports coverage was replaced by podcast repeats. Colin Murray and Mark Chapman were absent from the shows.
- Premier League players will not be giving interviews to the BBC on Saturday, which they have indicated they prefer to boycott. Today’s match In favor of Linegar.
- Lineker is yet to comment on his suspension. He was filmed leaving his home on Saturday, but only greeted the press gang camped outside his property.
- A A petition seeking reinstatement of Lineker The BBC has collected over 150,000 signatures.
The events were unprecedented and unsustainable, stemming from a single tweet in which Lineker compared the government’s rhetoric on asylum seekers to that of Nazi Germany.
The BBC said the tweet broke impartial social media rules, but sources close to Linegar, the corporation’s highest-paid presenter, said he stood by the accuracy of the post and would not apologise.
BBC journalists are held to a higher standard of impartiality than non-reporters such as Lineker, although all were told that their social media activity “undermines the BBC’s impartiality”.
Lineker was deemed to have breached the BBC’s impartiality rules last October after he tweeted his views on the Conservative Party accepting donations from Russia. The BBC said Lineker had “extra responsibility” because of his seniority and reminded him that staff “should avoid taking sides on party political issues or political disputes”.
Announcing Lineker’s suspension on Friday, the BBC said: “The BBC has engaged in extensive discussions with Carey and his team in recent days. We have said that we believe his recent social media activity violates our guidelines.
“The BBC has decided that he will step back from presenting Match of the Day until we have an agreed and clear stance on the use of social media.
“When it comes to leading our football and sports coverage, Gary is second to none. We’ve never said that Gary should be a non-opinionist or that he can’t have a view on issues that matter to him, but that he can take sides on party political issues or political controversies. We have said we will.”
BBC announcers, pundits and commentators who have left:
Alan ShearerBBC’s top football pundit and former Newcastle United striker
Ian WrightFormer Arsenal player A Today’s match Regular
Jermaine YenThe former Spurs player is a presenter and pundit
Alex Scott, Focus on football Host and former Arsenal player
Mark Chapman will announce live sports coverage on 5 Live and giveaways 2nd day of play
Colin Murraygifts Fighting talk BBC Radio 5 Live
Diane DublinFormer Manchester United player and 5 Live regular
Jason Mohammedgifts Final score For BBC1
Micah RichardsFormer Manchester City defender and one of the BBC’s top football pundits
Glen MurrayEx-dependency is a Focus on football Pandit and 5 live regulars
Kelly SomersFootball anchor and journalist
Steve WilsonOne of the BBC’s best football commentators
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