Alan Shearer joins Ian Wright in pulling out of Match of the Day - reaction as Gary Lineker steps back

Alan Shearer has joined Ian Wright in saying he will not appear on Match of the Day tomorrow, after Gary Lineker was forced off the programme.

Alan Shearer simply said on Twitter: "I have informed the BBC that I won't be appearing on MOTD tomorrow night."

Wright had tweeted earlier: "Everybody knows what Match of the Day means to me, but I've told the BBC I won't be doing it tomorrow. Solidarity."

Other commentators and football pundits have also reacted to the news.

Former Manchester United and England defender Gary Neville was among them. He tweeted: "When you take on the Tories and the system! Awful people who we need gone. Off for a (wine glass emoji)."

Former BBC journalist Jon Sopel drew a comparison with the corporation's chairman Richard Sharp, who has been involved in a cronyism row over accusations he helped Boris Johnson secure an £800,000 loan facility.

The former correspondent tweeted: "Lucky there are no producer guidelines on whether you need to declare facilitating an £800k loan to a prime minister while applying for a job as chairman of a broadcasting organisation..."

Meanwhile, Bectu, a union which represents thousands of BBC workers, said the corporation's decision was "deeply concerning".

Philippa Childs, Head of Bectu, said the decision will "give the appearance that they [BBC] have bowed to political pressure from ministers to take someone off air for disagreeing with the policies of the current government".

Lineker has been embroiled in a row over impartiality after comparing the language used to launch a new government asylum policy with 1930s Germany.

On Friday evening the BBC said the presenter would "step back" from Match of the Day.

Sky News understands that Lineker has not agreed to this, and he has been forced out of the highlights programme this weekend.

Lineker has 'no reason to apologise'

A source close to the presenter has told Sky News that the corporation has taken him off air, as he is unwilling to apologise for his comments this week on social media and admit he should not have done it.

The BBC said Lineker will "step back" from presenting the show until he and the BBC have reached an "agreed and clear position" on his use of social media.

Read more:
A history of Gary Lineker's most controversial tweets
Lineker hits back after home secretary calls his remarks 'irresponsible'

But the decision has been criticised by former footballers and politicians.

Former England footballer John Barnes told Sky News that Lineker has "no reason to apologise".

He said "Gary has no reason to apologise he has done absolutely nothing wrong" and spoke about impartiality and the BBC regarding the Qatar World Cup - where Lineker presented coverage for the broadcaster.

'An assault on free speech'

Meanwhile, a Labour source described the BBC's decision as "cowardly" and "an assault on free speech".

A party source said: "The BBC's cowardly decision to take Gary Lineker off air is an assault on free speech in the face of political pressure. Tory politicians lobbying to get people sacked for disagreeing with government policies should be laughed at, not pandered to. The BBC should rethink their decision."

BBC move 'pretty draconian'

The former head of BBC television news, Roger Mosey, says Lineker went "too far" with his tweet but described the broadcaster's response as "pretty draconian".

He told Sky News: "It's very sad because Gary is a brilliant presenter and there is also no doubt that this has been radically overblown.

"And I think at the core of it Gary did go too far in the tweet he did earlier this week - but does this mean apparently being taken off air on Match of the Day tomorrow night? That seems to be a pretty draconian response."

However, some have welcomed the BBC's move - including former culture secretary Nadine Dorries who said the decision shows the BBC is "serious about impartiality".

It is not yet clear who will stand in for Lineker during Saturday's edition of Match of the Day.