Gary Lineker angered Match of the Day viewers on Saturday night with a tongue-in-cheek reference to the BBC's decision to axe the classified football results.
The BBC One programme opened with a round-up of some of last week's results, read out in a style imitating the likes of James Alexander Gordon and Charlotte Green, the radio presenters who previously announced the scores. Lineker then quipped: "Just in case you couldn’t find the scores anywhere else last week."
Earlier in the day, at the time where the classified results would ordinarily have been heard, Mark Chapman, the presenter of BBC Radio Five Live's Sport Report programme explained to listeners where they could get the results.
"I will bring you all of the day's football results from across the UK, just like last weekend," Chapman said. "If you want them right now, they're available on the BBC Sport website and app, and that is fully accessible with audio description available."
After a week in which the broadcaster attracted criticism from fans groups and a host of former pundits and presenters, many Match of the Day viewers failed to see the funny side of Lineker's stunt. Among dozens of comments, one viewer tweeted: "What was that b******* at the start of MOTD? Complete arrogance and misses the point about the classified football results!"
Another, who describes himself as a former producer, added: "I find the manner in which Gary Lineker and Mark Chapman are patronising listeners to @5liveSport re the loss of the classified football results to be very distasteful. Sarcasm out of place."
Radio 5 Live's results service had been pulled from the airwaves without warning the previous weekend, sparking an immediate outcry from listeners driving home from matches. Lineker's reference to the decision came after a week in which Nadine Dorries, the Culture Secretary, added her voice to criticism, saying the corporation has handed supporters a "bitter pill" by ending the 70-year radio tradition.
BBC staffers are understood to have expressed dismay internally but bosses say there is no longer room in its schedules due to 5.30pm coverage for the Premier League evening kick-offs.
The BBC has defended its decision after receiving complaints. It said: “We’ve received some complaints from those unhappy that the classified football results will no longer be read out on Saturdays within the Sports Report programme on Radio 5 Live.
“We appreciate the strength of feeling towards the classified football results within Sports Report. It’s always difficult when a programme with a special history changes, but there are good reasons for the change.
“With the addition of the 5.30pm live Premier League match to our coverage, Sports Report has been condensed into a shorter programme – cut from one hour to 25 minutes.
"The classifieds were taking around five to seven minutes to read, which would have taken up around a third of the programme – constraining the range of sports we could cover.”
John Webster was the show's first results reader before Gordon, who conducted duties from 1974 to 2013. Gordon was replaced by Green, the former BBC Radio 4 newsreader, who read the results until last week.