Premier League players in talks over joining Match of the Day boycott out of solidarity with Gary Lineker

Gary Lineker will not present Match of the Day on Saturday night (Getty Images)

Match of the Day is facing up to a black-out from players and managers, as well as pundits, commentators and presenters, as the fall-out from the Gary Lineker story continues.

A number of Premier League clubs have major concerns over allowing their employers to speak to the programme. Lineker was taken off air in a situation that “changed in minutes” after the former England forward refused to agree to the BBC hierarchy’s conditions over his tweet on the government’s immigration policy.

The primary reason for a prospective boycott is one of solidarity, which has forced the football highlights show to go ahead without punditry or a presenter on Saturday, but it is another element to this veering into the political.

Many players want to show unity with ex-professionals such as Lineker, Ian Wright and Alan Shearer, and have contacted the Professional Footballers Association about the possibilities.

Fines could be issued for failing to fulfil broadcasting duties, but the PFA are understood to be supportive of any such stance by their members.

On a secondary level, there has also been concern within some clubs over whether their managers and players appearing on Match of the Day would almost constitute a “political act”.

Match of the Day’s commentators joined the strike late on Friday night, potentially leaving the country’s flagship programme in the position of having no description, analysis or interviews.

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.

Wright and 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”.