JONATHAN MCEVOY: It’s time that the ‘overpaid’ Gary Lineker preached elsewhere… he’s a very decent presenter but is he worth £1.35m? The BBC can bring in someone else to front Match of the Day perfectly adequately, and the world will still turn
- Nobody is irreplaceable and Gary Lineker’s time at the BBC may come to an end
- It may be time for Lineker to move elsewhere, such as BT Sport and preach there
- There wasn’t total unanimity from the BBC in support of Lineker this week
If Gary Lineker’s critics thought that forcing him off Match of the Day would be a significant win in the culture wars that beset the UK, they were perhaps reflecting on Saturday that it had turned into the ultimate Pyrrhic victory.
The huge outpouring of support for Lineker among fellow pundits and the football community was well beyond what might have been expected and rendered the BBC unable to maintain even a modicum of its usual football output in an unprecedented mass withdrawal of labour.
Saturday’s football schedule on BBC TV and radio was an emasculated travesty of what the nation’s broadcaster usually transmits, forcing the BBC to apologise to its viewers and listeners as its most-cherished shows and institutions were forced off air or broadcast to a standard well below that expected
Match of the Day, the nation’s most-loved and longest-running sports programme, was reduced to a 20-minute farce of goals highlights, there being neither presenters nor pundits worth their salt willing to participate after BBC director general Tim Davie had suspended Lineker on Friday, because of his tweet comparing the Government’s language around their new Migration Bill to that of 1930s Germany. Match of the Day 2 will likely be forced into a similar format on Sunday.
What started out as a clipping of Lineker’s wings by Davie, a former Conservative party candidate, and by the recently appointed BBC chairman Richard Sharp — the man who made a ‘significant error of judgement’ in failing to declare his role in securing Boris Johnson a loan just weeks before then-Prime Minister Johnson nominated him for the job — has turned into a full- scale crisis which would be beyond the wildest imaginings of the satirical show, W1A.
Gary Lineker is a very decent sports presenter but is he really worth £1.35million?
The time may have come for Lineker to leave the BBC and to preach from there instead
Davie’s show of strength in cutting Lineker down to size has only served to demonstrate just how powerful support is for him within football. It started with Ian Wright and Alan Shearer saying they wouldn’t appear on Match of the Day and ended up with Jurgen Klopp jumping to Lineker’s defence and Leicester fans brandishing ‘Migrants welcome!’ placards in support of the presenter and former England striker, who was at the King Power Stadium to watch his hometown team lose 3-1 to Chelsea.
Although Lineker is a very good presenter he can’t be said to be worth £1.35million
Pundits including Jermaine Jenas were among those that showed solidarity with Lineker
Pundits Micah Richards, Jermaine Jenas, Jermain Defoe, Glenn Murray, Dion Dublin and presenters Alex Scott, Mark Chapman and Jason Mohammad were among the scores of BBC Sport mainstays who withdrew their services on Saturday, meaning flagship programmes Football Focus and Final Score didn’t go ahead. BBC Five Live were forced to cancel Fighting Talk and the Five Live Sports Show at 1pm and ran podcasts instead.
Match of the Day commentators led by Steve Wilson, Jonathan Pearce, Guy Mowbray and Robyn Cowan declined to work. Last night’s Match of the Day had to cobble together commentary over goal clips and as such was only 20 minutes long, unprecedented in the modern era.
Ian Dennis, who unlike the other commentators is on the BBC staff rather than a freelance, did commentate for 5 Live on the Leeds v Brighton game, introducing the game by saying it was ‘a very difficult time for BBC Sport and those that work in the department. And we all hope that gets resolved.’
Premier League players have also made it clear, via their union, the Professional Footballers’ Association, that they will not participate in Match of the Day post-match interviews while Lineker is suspended.
Will Gary Lineker return to MOTD in the future?
Yes – 4/6
No – 11/10
Odds provided by Paddy Power
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