BBC Match of the Day pundit disappeared from TV after controversial 'skirt' comment

Lawrenson was let go by the BBC in 2022
-Credit: (Image: Jonathan Buckmaster)

Liverpool legend Mark Lawrenson used to be a regular face on the BBC's football coverage, but these days is rarely seen following a bitter parting of ways with the broadcaster.

The 67-year-old Republic of Ireland international, who also represented the likes of Preston North End and Brighton during his playing career, became a household name as a pundit and co-commentator after hanging up his boots. He regularly appeared on Match of the Day and Football Focus, forming somewhat of a double act with his ex-teammate Alan Hansen.

But Lawrenson's time with the BBC was not without controversy as he revealed ahead of Euro 2024 that he nearly got axed by the broadcaster for a comment he made during the 2014 World Cup.

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Discussing the incident on the Disruptors' podcast, he said: “Switzerland had broken away and this guy is up against the goalkeeper and it's 0-0 and late in the game, ‘You're thinking, crikey, if he scores here Argentina go out’. He didn't really decide and make a decision about anything, the goalkeeper basically came out and stopped him from scoring.

“I think I came up with like ‘Wow, look at that, he was kind of too busy thinking about his handbag to score’. After the game, the boss said to me 'You can't really say that, you might not be commentating on the World Cup final’.

"They had a little meeting and came back and said 'You are going to do it’. I said ‘Alright, thank you very much’. In the World Cup final it was 0-0 for a long, long time and Argentina got a free kick and I am saying 'Put your bags down girls and somebody make a decision'.

"You know what, nothing was said. It was just one of those stupid things you say, when you are in the game you think 'Let's make something happen'. I am pretty sure [commentator] Guy Mowbray was laughing, they were all laughing."

Lawrenson's commentary for the Switzerland v Argentina match led to Ofcom receiving 172 complaints from viewers - but remarkably they were made in regard to another controversial comment he made during the game.

After Swiss striker Josip Drmic spurned a chance to score with a tame effort on goal, 'Lawro' remarked that he "should have put a skirt on," a comment that was quickly slammed by viewers who regarded it as sexist. That prompted the BBC to issue a statement apologising for the incident, which read: "We acknowledge that the remark by commentator Mark Lawrenson about Switzerland's Josip Drmic was inappropriate and we apologise for any offence caused by it."

While he escaped the sack on that occasion, Lawrenson's time at the BBC came to an end in 2022, when his usual one year contract was not renewed at the end of the Premier League season, bringing his 30-year stint at the broadcaster to an end. Angry at being let go, he has since accused his former employers of being "top of the Woke league," claiming that he was not kept on because he was "65 and white".

Discussing his exit on the Ben Heath podcast earlier this year, he said: ‘I wasn’t happy with the way they dealt with me, basically I'd been there nearly 25 years, great, but I was just signing one-year contracts, season to season.’

“I kind of knew it was coming and the thing that really p***** me off was instead of ringing me and saying, ‘Look you’ve had a great run, thanks very much and we’re going in a different direction'... typical BBC, basically I was 65 and white and goodnight Lucy."

Lawrenson added: "Gone woke? [The BBC] is top of the woke league. They are frightened to death, absolutely and totally frightened to death. I think day by day, I think the integrity of the corporation gets chipped off. It used to be absolutely fantastic but they are woke, plus 100 per cent."