Commentators join pundits in boycotting BBC Match of the Day after Gary Lineker is told to step back
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Commentators have joined pundits in boycotting Match of the Day on Saturday night after Gary Lineker was told to step back.
Lineker has been forced to give ground until an agreement on his social media activity is reached, following on from his Twitter comments on the government's new stance on asylum seekers.
Critical of the plans to stop migrant boats crossing the English Channel, he compared the language used to Nazi Germany.
In a statement, the BBC said the 62-year-old was guilty of a "breach of our guidelines and has been told he "should keep well away from taking sides on party political issues or political controversies".
The decision was forced on the former England striker as opposed to it being a mutual call and has led to monumental backlash.
Regular pundits Ian Wright and Alan Shearer immediately said they would not appear on the show without host Lineker, standing in completely solidarity.
Jermaine Jenas and Micah Richards both clarified their stance, informing fans they too would have refused to feature had they been scheduled to.
The BBC then said that the programme would still air without a presenter or pundits in the studio in an unprecedented move.
And the chaos surrounding the show continues, with usual broadcasters Steve Wilson, Conor McNamara, Simon Brotherton and Robyn Cowen confirming they will not be providing commentary on games including the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham and Chelsea.
Wilson took to Twitter to reveal the commentators' position on Friday night, writing: "As commentators on MOTD, we have decided to step down from tomorrow 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."
As commentators on MOTD, we have decided to step down from tomorrow 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.— Steve Wilson (@Wilsonfooty) March 10, 2023
Essentially it means commentators from the world feed, normally heard outside of the UK, are expected to fill the void for the show.
Vocal fans are planning to boycott the highlights show and it could well have a huge impact on viewing figures.
Providing an update on the programme's format, the BBC 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.”
Lineker has hosted Match of the Day since 1999 and fronts BBC's coverage of international football tournaments and Sports Personality of the Year.