Tory MP hails ‘best Match of the Day in years’ after Gary Lineker sidelined for criticising government

Lineker’s suspension had prompted other presenters to walk out (BBC/Pete Dadds)

A Conservative MP hailed the “best Match of the Day episode in years” after Gary Lineker was pulled from the BBC show for criticising the government’s immigration policy.

Lineker was stood down from presenting BBC Sport’s flagship programme after a row with hierarchy over his comments on Twitter in which he compared the language used in the Tories’ new “stop the boats” policy with Germany in the 1930s.

Match of the Day went ahead in a reduced 20-minute highlights-only format without a studio presentation or post-match interviews after staff across a raft of the BBC’s sports coverage withdraw in solidarity with Lineker’s right to express his views.

Scott Benton, the Conservative Member of Parliament for Blackpool South, tweeted in praise of the coverage, writing: “Had all the goals in. No ‘expert’ analysis. And finished quicker than usual so I could make the pub for last orders. What’s not to like.”

Sunday’s Match Of The Day 2 is also expected run with a reduced format while planned coverage of the Women’s Super League match between Chelsea and Manchester United will air without a pre-match presentation.

Uncertainty over Match Of The Day 2 grew after main presenter Mark Chapman was absent from his BBC radio duties and Jermain Defoe announced he had pulled out of appearing as a pundit on the highlights show.