Alan Shearer, Gary Lineker and Ian Wright
Ian Wright and Alan Shearer have said he will not appear on Saturday’s edition of Match Of The Day in an apparent joint act of “solidarity” with colleague Gary Lineker.
On Friday, the BBC announced Gary would “step back” from his hosting role on the football highlights show until it found an “agreed and clear position” on his use of social media.
It came after a row regarding the presenter’s response on Twitter to a Home Office video – in which home secretary Suella Braverman unveiled the government’s plans to stop migrants crossing the Channel on small boats – saying the language used was “not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the ’30s”.
It was later confirmed Saturday’s Match of the Day is to go ahead without presenters and pundits.
A BBC spokesperson said the show will “focus on match action without studio presentation or punditry” after several other pundits pulled out of the show.
Former Arsenal player Alex Scott appeared to rule herself out of presenting Match Of The Day by posting a GIF with the words “Nah! Not me”, while Micah Richards and Jermaine Jenas also indicated they would not be interested in being pundits on the programme on Saturday.
Reacting to the earlier BBC announcement, Ian posted a tweet, which read: “Everybody knows what Match of the Day means to me, but I’ve told the BBC I won’t be doing it tomorrow. Solidarity.”
Alan, the former Newcastle striker, later tweeted: “I have informed the BBC that I won’t be appearing on MOTD tomorrow night.”
Everybody knows what Match of the Day means to me, but I’ve told the BBC I won’t be doing it tomorrow. Solidarity.
— Ian Wright (@IanWright0) March 10, 2023
I have informed the BBC that I won’t be appearing on MOTD tomorrow night.
— Alan Shearer (@alanshearer) March 10, 2023
Both were met with a wave of support on Twitter:
Well played Wrighty
— Jeff Stelling (@JeffStelling) March 10, 2023
You were the reason I first gave a crap about football, back in 1996 (I was 6).
And you've just cemented your position as a lifelong hero of mine.
— Femi (@Femi_Sorry) March 10, 2023
— Dr Amir Khan GP (@DrAmirKhanGP) March 10, 2023
— Zarah Sultana MP (@zarahsultana) March 10, 2023
— Asim Chaudhry (@AsimC86) March 10, 2023
— Sally Lindsay (@sally_lindsay) March 10, 2023
— Zig Buu (@ItsBigZuu) March 10, 2023
What a great man you are.
— George Caulkin (@GeorgeCaulkin) March 10, 2023
Revealing Gary would be stepping back from the programme, a BBC spokesperson said: “The BBC has been in extensive discussions with Gary and his team in recent days. We have said that we consider his recent social media activity to be a breach of our guidelines.
“The BBC has decided that he will step back from presenting Match of the Day until we’ve got an agreed and clear position on his use of social media.
“When it comes to leading our football and sports coverage, Gary is second to none. We have never said that Gary should be an opinion free zone, or that he can’t have a view on issues that matter to him, but we have said that he should keep well away from taking sides on party political issues or political controversies.”
BBC director-general Tim Davie warned staff about their use of social media when he took on the role at the end of 2020, and guidelines around social media use have since been updated.
Staff members at the corporation were told they needed to follow editorial guidelines and editorial oversight in the same way as when doing official BBC content.
However, Gary is a freelance broadcaster for the BBC, not a permanent member of staff, and is not responsible for news or political content.
He previously said he did not fear suspension from the BBC standing by his condemnation of plans to stop migrant boats crossing the Channel, and insisted he would “continue to speak up” on the subject.
His earlier comments faced criticism from members of the Tory party, including the home secretary, while a spokesperson for Rishi Sunak also said: “It’s obviously disappointing to see someone whose salary is funded by hard-working British (licence-fee) payers using that kind of rhetoric and seemingly dismissing their legitimate concerns that they have about small boats crossings and illegal migration.”