Chaos at the BBC as Football Focus, Final Score and radio coverage all CANCELLED after Alex Scott & other key staff stage boycott in support of Gary Lineker
- MOTD to air with highlights only
- Football Focus & Final Score cancelled
- BBC radio coverage also pulled
WHAT HAPPENED? The extraordinary saga surrounding the flagship Premier League highlights programme took a further twist on Saturday as the BBC were forced to cancel Football Focus, Final Score and BBC Radio's 5 Live Sport after presenters and pundits withdrew.
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Football Focus presenter Alex Scott tweeted: "I made a decision last night that even though I love my show and we have had an incredible week winning an SJA for football focus that it doesn’t feel right for me to go ahead with the show today.. Hopefully I will be back in the chair next week…" The Sun reported that the BBC had lined up presenter Kelly Somers to stand in for Scott but she too withdrew. The corporation's Final Score show also suffered as its presenter Jason Mohammad announced that he was also stepping back from duty today, causing the show's cancellation.
The crisis spread to BBC Radio, with host Mark Chapman standing down from presenter duties leaving BBC Radio 5 Live to fill its usual Saturday lunchtime programming with podcasts.
THE BIGGER PICTURE: The astonishing developments began on Friday afternoon when it emerged that the BBC had suspended Lineker for apparently breaching impartiality guidelines after slamming the government's proposed asylum legislation. Regular pundits Ian Wright and Alan Shearer quickly withdrew in support of Lineker before a host of potential replacements including Scott, Micah Richards, Jermaine Jenas and Mark Chapman ruled themselves out of appearing on the programme.
Left in the embarrassing position of scrambling to put together a show, the BBC announced on Friday evening it would air a streamlined version of Match of the Day, featuring match highlights with no presenter or analysis.
AND WHAT'S MORE: More drama came as the show's team of commentators made a collective decision to follow suit. Premier League players were also drawn into the fallout, with the players' union, the PFA, announcing this morning that it had agreed on their behalf that no interviews would be conducted with Match of the Day.
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WHAT NEXT? It's an unprecedented time for the historic programme and its host broadcaster. A pared-down version of the show featuring game highlights only will still be broadcast, but what now for Lineker? Will he be brought back in or will the BBC stick to their original decision?
Lineker will take advantage of his suspension on Saturday to watch his hometown club Leicester City take on Chelsea at the King Power Stadium.