Gary Lineker reportedly broke down in tears after learning his fellow Match Of The Day stars had backed him and pulled out from tonight’s show after BBC bosses took the presenter off the air.
Regular pundits Ian Wright and Alan Shearer both announced they would not appear on tonight’s show to round up the day’s Premier League action as an act of ‘solidarity’ with their colleague.
Other presenters, commentators, and pundits all followed suit.
Lineker was taken off air by BBC bosses on Friday after Tweeting earlier in the week that the government’s new ‘Stop The Boats’ immigration policy was ‘not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s’.
Addressing the saga, former BBC director-general Greg Dyke said he now believes there is no way back for Lineker to return as a BBC presenter.
Gary Lineker reportedly broke down in tears after learning his fellow Match Of The Day stars had backed him in an act of ‘solidarity’
Former BBC director-general Greg Dyke has said he now believes there is no way back for Lineker to return as a BBC presenter
Dyke, who was BBC chief between 2000 and 2004, was asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today how the current director-general Tim Davie should approach the situation.
The 75-year-old, who was also chairman of the Football Association until 2016, said: ‘I don’t know how he (Tim Davie) gets out of this.’
‘It’s quite clear Gary Lineker is not going to give him the assurances that he says he wants, therefore I suspect this is the end of Gary Lineker as a BBC presenter as we’ve known him, and I suspect it will have a long-term effect on Match of the Day.’
Tonight’s Match Of The Day will now ‘focus on match action’ following the presenter, commentator, and pundit walkout, a BBC spokesperson said.
According to the Sun, this reduced Linker to tears after learning of the display of solidarity.
A source told the paper: ‘This has been a tumultuous 24 hours. Gary is in shock and had no idea this was coming. He wanted to go on air, make no bones about it, this was not his decision.
‘Privately, everyone at the Beeb is in meltdown too. They genuinely don’t know how they will get a show out because no one wants to touch it.
‘Everyone in the industry is appalled at how Gary has been hung out to dry, and the general BBC inconsistency.
‘Gary wept when he found out his mates had all publicly backed him.
Match of the Day’s decision to take Gary Lineker (left) off air over his comments about the Government has led to a walkout from fellow hosts Alan Shearer (centre) and Ian Wright (right)
‘The support has been overwhelming which, essentially, is a massive pie in the face for the BBC.
‘Gary wasn’t willing to pretend to support something he vehemently doesn’t agree with.
‘He doesn’t need the cash and, frankly, it seems hard to imagine a way back for either party from here.’
The BBC statement earlier said: ‘Some of our pundits have said that they don’t wish to appear on the programme while we seek to resolve the situation with Gary.
‘We understand their position and we have decided that the programme will focus on match action without studio presentation or punditry.’
Ian Wright was the first to say he would not appear on Match of the Day in protest, followed by Newcastle legend Alan Shearer.
Wright said last night: ‘Everybody knows what Match of the Day means to me, but I’ve told the BBC I won’t be doing it tomorrow. Solidarity.’
Shearer also announced: ‘I have informed the BBC that I won’t be appearing on MOTD tomorrow night.’
Football Focus presenter and former Lioness Alex Scott also appeared to rule herself out, tweeting a short meme which showed US politician Bernie Sanders saying ‘Nah! Not me.’
Jermaine Jenas – regarded as an eventual successor to Lineker – said he was not due to be on tonight but would have boycotted the show.
Former Manchester City defender Micah Richards also backed Wright and Shearer’s decision to boycott the BBC show.
‘I was not due to be working on MOTD tomorrow, but if I was, I would find myself taking the same decision that @IanWright0 & @alanshearer have,’ he tweeted.
Gary Lineker, 62, (pictured outside his home yesterday) will not present Match Of The Day this evening after being taken off air by BBC bosses
There will be no regular Match Of The Day presenters, pundits or commentators for the first time in its 59-year history after a mass walkout
Greg Dyke went on to say: ‘I think what the BBC did yesterday was mistaken
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.’
The statement was shared by MOTD commentators including Steve Wilson, Conor McNamara, Robyn Rowen and Steven Wyeth.
After saying that he saw no way back for Linker to return as a BBC presenter, former director-general also told Today that the BBC was ‘mistaken’ in standing Gary Lineker down from hosting duties on Match Of The Day.
Asked earlier whether Lineker’s tweet was acceptable, he said: ‘We live in a world of freedom of speech and therefore, yes. He didn’t broadcast it on the BBC, it was a tweet he did privately.’
Mr Dyke went on to say: ‘I think what the BBC did yesterday was mistaken. And I’ve over the years since I left the BBC never gone public criticising the leadership of the BBC and the decisions they take, because I know what a difficult job it is, and difficult decisions have to be taken.’
But, he said, the precedent at the corporation is that ‘news and current affairs employees are expected to be impartial and not the rest’.
‘If you start applying the rules of news and current affairs to everybody who works for the BBC, where does it end?’, he added.
Support form Match of The Day collogues reportedly reduced Linker to tears after learning of the display of solidarity
Dyke also said the BBC had ‘undermined its own credibility’ as it will be viewed as having bowed to government pressure
‘There is a long-established precedent in the BBC that is that if you’re an entertainment presenter or you’re a football presenter, then you are not bound by those same (impartiality) rules.
‘The real problem of today is that the BBC has undermined its own credibility by doing this because it looks like – the perception out there – is that the BBC has bowed to Government pressure.
‘And once the BBC does that, then you’re in real problems.
‘The perception out there is going to be that Gary Lineker, a much-loved television presenter, was taken off air after Government pressure on a particular issue.’
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