Players and managers will not be required to talk about the match of the day on Saturday following the BBC’s decision to remove presenter Gary Lineker from the Premier League’s flagship show.
The BBC announced on Friday that Lineker would be “stepping back” from his longtime role following a row over his use of social media.
The move sparked societal unrest with pundits, such as Ian Wright and Alan Shearer, and commentators later confirming they would not be part of Saturday’s program as a show of solidarity with their colleague.
The BBC later confirmed that the program would take place without a “studio and expert presentation” and would instead focus solely on match action.
It is now understood the Premier League has spoken to the 12 clubs playing on Saturday and informed them that players and managers will not be receiving Match of the Day requests for post-match interviews.
Liverpool travel to Bournemouth in Saturday’s morning kick-off while champions Manchester City are also in action at Crystal Palace.
Players and managers are required to fulfill certain post-match media obligations with fines imposed for any refusal to do so.
However, following suggestions that some may choose not to participate as a show of support for Lineker, they will no longer be required to speak.
Why isn’t Gary Lineker presenting Match of the Day? And what’s next for the BBC?
THE Professional Footballers Association (PFA) welcomed what they consider a “common sense decision”.
“We have been informed that players involved in today’s matches will not be invited to participate in interviews with Match of the Day,” they said in a statement.
“The PFA reached out to members who wanted to take a collective stand and be able to show their support for those who have chosen not to be part of tonight’s programme.
“During these conversations, we made it clear that as a union we would support all members who may face consequences if they choose not to meet their broadcast commitments.
“It’s a common-sense decision that ensures players won’t be placed in that position again.”
Lineker, who first presented Match of the Day in 1999, criticized the UK government’s new asylum policy in a March 7 tweet.
He wrote on Twitter: “There is no massive influx. We welcome far fewer refugees than other major European countries. This is just an immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language no different from that used by Germany in the 1930s, and I’m out of order? »
Lineker’s tweet drew criticism from UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman and Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer, among others, but also received support from other high-profile media figures such as Piers Morgan.
Lineker had said on Thursday that he was set to present the Match of the Day as scheduled on Saturday.
“Well, it’s been an interesting few days,” Lineker wrote. “Glad this ridiculously out of proportion story seems to be easing and very much looking forward to featuring @BBCMOTD on Saturday. Thanks again for all of your amazing support. It’s been overwhelming.
But the situation escalated on Friday afternoon when the BBC released a statement confirming that Lineker had been removed from his post.
A statement released by the broadcaster read: “The BBC has had extensive discussions with Gary and his team over the past few days. We said we consider his recent social media activity a violation of our guidelines.
“The BBC have decided that he will stop presenting Match Of The Day until we have a clear and agreed position on his use of social media.
“When it comes to directing our football and sports coverage, Gary is second to none.
“We have never said that Gary should be an opinionless zone, or that he cannot have an opinion on issues that matter to him, but we have said that he should refrain from taking sides on political issues or political controversies.”
Former BBC chief executive Greg Dyke, who ran the company between 2000 and 2004, believes the decision to sanction Lineker was the wrong one.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘If you start applying the news and current affairs rules to everyone who works for the BBC, where does it stop?’
He added: “There is a long established precedent at the BBC that if you are an entertainment presenter or a football presenter you are not bound by those same (impartial) rules.
“The real problem today is that the BBC has undermined its own credibility by doing this because it seems – the perception there – is that the BBC has bowed to government pressure.
“And once the BBC does that, you have real problems.
“The perception there is going to be that Gary Lineker, a much-loved TV presenter, was taken off the air after government pressure on a particular issue.”
Other BBC programs were shaken up on Saturday, with presenters Alex Scott and Kelly Somers confirming they would not be part of Football Focus and presenter Jason Mohammad doing the same for Final Score.
The two programs were later replaced on the schedule.
Former players Dion Dublin and Leon Osman have confirmed they will not appear on BBC Radio 5Live’s Saturday coverage while Fighting Talk, scheduled for 11am, did not air.
The usual afternoon radio programme, including coverage of Bournemouth v Liverpool, has also been replaced.
It was the BBC, not Gary Lineker, who scored the spectacular own goal
(Photo: James Manning/PA Images via Getty Images)