Match of the Day will be broadcast at its usual time on Saturday night, but the Premier League Highlights show will have a different look on Saturday after presenter Gary Lineker was axed from presenting duties on the BBC.
Lineker has been “retired” from presenting tonight’s program following a backlash over his comments on social media this week, in which he slammed the government’s latest policy on migrant boats and compared the language it used to the rhetoric of Nazi Germany in the 1930s.
After the former England captain was removed from the press on Saturday, a large number of colleagues they stood in solidarity in a big boycott from the BBC sports section.
Who will participate in Saturday’s match of the day?
In a word, nobody. Following the announcement that Lineker would not be taking part, Ian Wright quickly pulled himself out of Saturday’s show. Alan Shearer was next, and one after another, a succession of pundits and presenters followed suit.
They include Jermaine Jenas and Alex Scott, who also said she will not host Football Focus on Saturday, plus Micah Richards. MOTD 2 presenter Mark Chapman was another, also refusing to take part in Radio 5’s football show on Saturday.
“Saturday’s Match of the Day will have no studio presenters or pundits after contributors pulled out in solidarity with Gary Lineker”, The BBC announced on Twitter.
What about the commentators?
After a number of senior pundits pulled out on Friday, speculation turned to the Match of the Day commentators, and given their salaries are much lower than those of former footballers, many expected them to participate as usual.
But the commentators released a joint statement on Friday saying they would not be working on Saturday’s Match of the Day either.
“As commentators on MOTD, we have decided to withdraw from tomorrow night’s broadcast,” Steve Wilson wrote on Twitter. “We take comfort in the fact 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.”
Will there be an interview?
The Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) has announced that after today’s matches there will be no talks with the players for the match of the day.
“We have been informed that players involved in today’s matches will not be asked to take part in Match of the Day interviews,” they said on Twitter.
The PFA said they had spoken to their members and were concerned that some could face consequences for deciding not to meet their broadcasting obligations.
“This is a common sense decision that ensures players will not now be put in that position,” they added.
What time will the MOTD be and how long will it last?
Match of the Day will start at 22:20 on Saturday, as originally planned, but the running time has been dramatically reduced due to the absence of the presenters and pundits.
This means that there is no analysis or discussion of the matches, but only the most interesting parts of the matches will be shown in the 20-minute program.
“Match of the Day will last 20 minutes tonight,” the BBC announced on Twitter.
What other football coverage is affected?
There was no Football Focus on Saturday as presenter Alex Scott said she did not feel well working on the show. Kelly Somers also ruled herself out and the program was removed from the schedule.
The Final Score was also dropped after presenter Jason Mohammad said he would not be involved in it on Saturday. Former Brighton striker Glenn Murray was due to take part in it and Football Focus, but said he would not take part in either.
And BBC Radio 5 Live axed its main football show on Saturday after presenter Mark Chapman stood down, along with a host of others including Dion Dublin and Colin Murray.
Will MOTD 2 be included?
It is unclear what will happen to MOTD 2, Sunday’s flagship show, but it seems unlikely that any of those who switched off on Saturday (including host Mark Chapman) will want to continue with the programme.
Former Tottenham and England striker Jermain Defoe was due to appear as a pundit on the show but has already said he will not take part.
“Always a great privilege to work with BBC MOTD. But tomorrow I have taken the decision to step down from my duties as a pundit,” he tweeted.