Match of the Day commentators join pundit boycott after Gary Lineker stood down
Six leading Match of the Day commentators have added to the growing boycott of Saturday’s programme after Gary Lineker was stood down by the BBC.
A joint statement from the group, which includes regular commentators such as Steve Wilson and Conor McNamara, said “it would not be appropriate to take part in the programme”.
It added to the revolt that has followed the BBC’s decision to pull Lineker from his presenting duties after ruling the former England international’s criticism of the government’s new asylum policy had breached their impartiality guidelines.
Ian Wright and Alan Shearer announced they would not appear on Match of the Day as planned out of solidarity, while Micah Richards, Jermaine Jenas and Alex Scott also ruled themselves out of appearing on the show.
It has forced Match of the Day to take the unprecedented step of announcing the programme will “focus on match action without studio presentation or punditry” - but the match highlights are now at risk of not having any commentary either, unless producers decide to use the Premier League’s world feed.
The commentators released a joint statement late on Friday, which said: “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. However, in the circumstances, we do not feel it is appropriate to take part in the programme.”
Wright and Shearer announced earlier in the day that they would be boycotting Match of the Day out of “solidarity” with Lineker, with Richards, Jenas and Scott also ruling themselves out of appearing on the show.
The BBC later confirmed there will be no presenter or pundits on Match of the Day. A BBC spokesperson 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.”
The BBC earlier said Lineker had been told to “step back” from his presenting duties due to his use of social media.
Lineker has been involved in a row over impartiality after criticising the government’s asylum policy on small boats. The former England striker compared the government’s language in launching the policy with 1930s Germany.