Premier League players and manager will not give interviews to Match of the Day as the row over the BBC’s decision to stand down Gary Lineker intensifies.
Saturday’s show, due to air later this evening, will have no presenters or pundits after the likes of Alan Shearer and Ian Wright announced on Friday their boycott of this weekend’s highlights programme.
The mass walkout, which has now prompted Alex Scott to pull out of hosting Football Focus on Saturday lunchtime, was prompted by the BBC declaring it had ‘decided’ Lineker would take a break from presenting the show until an ‘agreed and clear position’ on his use of social media had been reached.
A much-changed show is still slated to go ahead, albeit without its usual commentators, while the programme will carry no interviews with the likes of Jurgen Klopp, Mohamed Salah and Graham Potter.
A statement from the Professional Footballers’ Association read: ‘We have been informed that players involved in today’s game will not be asked to participate in interviews with Match of the Day.
‘The PFA have been speaking to member who wanted to take a collective position and to be able to show support for those who have chosen 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 ensure players won’t now be put in that position.’
Former England footballers and MOTD regulars including Alan Shearer and Ian Wright announced on Friday that they would be boycotting the show in solidarity with Lineker.
Several of the show’s commentators also said they would be stepping down from Saturday’s broadcast.
The BBC said the show would ‘focus on match action without studio presentation or punditry’, saying it understood the position of its presenters.
Lineker, 62, became embroiled in a row over impartiality after comparing the language used to launch a new Government asylum seeker policy with 1930s Germany on Twitter.
The broadcaster said it had ‘decided’ Lineker would take a break from presenting the highlights programme until an “agreed and clear position” on his use of social media had been reached.
Richard Ayre, former controller of editorial policy at the BBC, said Lineker might have presented his last MOTD.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast, he said: ‘It is an irreconcilable position, I think, between the BBC guidelines and Gary who, perfectly understandably, feels that he has a right as an individual to express his views on any issue, however politically contentious it may be.
‘And the BBC takes a different view because its guidelines lay down particular rules for people who are really high-profile BBC personalities, and I don’t think it’s likely that in the coming days they’re going to be reconciled.’
He added: ‘He’s terrific and it will be very sad if he goes, but frankly the BBC and its reputation is bigger and more important than any individual, even Gary.’
MORE : Ex BBC boss says network ‘undermining own credibility’ with Gary Lineker row by ‘bowing to Government pressure’
MORE : Ian Wright vows to leave BBC if Gary Lineker sacked: ‘I’m out, I’m gone’
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