Football Focus, Final Score and 5 Live Sport pulled from air as Gary Lineker crisis at BBC deepens

Alex Scott and Jason Mohammed said they would not be appearing on air this afternoon as the BBC apologised for a ‘limited sport programming this weekend’

Jamie Braidwood
Saturday 11 March 2023 14:36 GMT
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Gary Lineker ignores reporters questions as he leaves his London home

Football Focus and Final Score were pulled from the BBC’s afternoon schedule after hosts Alex Scott and Jason Mohammed said they would not be presenting the programmes.

It comes after Gary Lineker was told to step back from hosting Match of the Day due to his social media use, with the crisis around the BBC now engulfing the two other shows meant to be aired on Saturday.

The BBC apologised for a “limited sport programming this weekend”. The BBC said: “We are sorry for these changes which we recognise will be disappointing for BBC sport fans. We are working hard to resolve the situation and hope to do so soon.”

Scott was scheduled to present Football Focus at Saturday lunchtime but announced that she would be adding to her boycott of Match of the Day, which the BBC said will go ahead “without studio presentation or punditry” following a pundit revolt.

It has been confirmed that Premier League players will not speak to Match of the Day today in a show of support for Lineker, with six leading commentators announcing that they would join the boycott along with pundits Ian Wright and Alan Shearer.

As well as Scott and Mohammad, several members of BBC Sport staff tweeted that they had joined the mutiny. One reporter said: “All of us need to stand together.”

On the BBC’s afternoon schedule, Football Focus was replaced by an extended edition of Bargain Hunt while Final Score was taken off and swapped for a screening of the Repair Shop.

Part of BBC Radio 5 Live’s sports coverage was also pulled from air on Saturday afternoon, with 5 Live Sport replaced on the schedule by pre-recorded podcasts from 12pm. Commentary of the Six Nations fixture between Italy and Wales was moved from Sports Extra to 5 Live, while England vs France is set to be aired.

Scott had voiced her support for Lineker on Friday night and the former England international said she had informed BBC bosses of her decision to pull out of this week’s show that evening.

Scott tweeted: “I made a decision last night that even though I love doing Football Focus and we have had an incredible week winning an SJA award that it just doesn’t feel right going ahead with the show today. Hopefully I will be back in the chair next week…”

Alex Scott said she would not host Football Focus

Pundit Glenn Murray pulled out of appearing on Football Focus and Final Score with the former Brighton striker tweeting: “Was meant to be up in Media City today but reflecting last night I felt it was the right thing to do to step away from Focus & Score today.

Final Score presenter Mohammad informed the BBC that he will not be hosting the show on Saturday afternoon. He said: “As you know, Final Score is a TV show very close to my heart. However - I have this morning informed the BBC that I will not be presenting the show this afternoon on BBC One.”

It comes after the BBC told former England striker Lineker to step down from hosting its flagship highlights programme due to his social media use, with fellow ex-players Wright and Shearer confirming that they would not appear on Match of the Day out of “solidarity”.

However, the revolt that has followed the decision to pull Lineker from his presenting duties, after the BBC ruled his criticism of the government’s new asylum policy had breached their impartiality guidelines, took an extraordinary turn on Saturday as Football Focus and Final Score were removed from the afternoon’s schedule.

Meanwhile, it has been comfirmed by the Professional Players Association (PFA) that Premier League players will not speak to Match of the Day today in a show of support for Lineker, joining the growing boycott of the programme led by pundits and commentators.

The BBC informed clubs that they will not request players to fulfil their broadcast commitments. As reported by The Independent on Friday night, clubs were in debate over whether their managers and players appearing on Match of the Day would almost constitute a “political act”.

Sky Sports reporter speaks out about allegedly hypocritical treatment of Gary Lineker

Premier League players also wanted to stand in solidarity with Lineker, as well as former professionals Wright and Shearer, and the PFA have confirmed players will not be put in the position of speaking to Match of the Day.

A statement from the PFA said: “We have been informed that players involved in today’s games will not be asked to participate in interviews with Match of the Day. The PFA have been speaking to members who wanted to take a collective position and to be able to show their support for those who have chosen not to be part of tonight’s programme.

“During those conversations we made clear that, as their union, we would support all members who might face consequences for choosing not to complete their broadcast commitments.

“This is a common sense decision that ensures players won’t now be put in that position.”

Six leading Match of the Day commentators also said they would not take part in Saturday’s programme. A joint statement from the group, which includes regular Match of the Day commentators such as Steve Wilson and Conor McNamara, said “it would not be appropriate to take part in the programme”.

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