Match of the Day will air without presenters, pundits, or commentators

Gary Lineker's colleagues are standing by him credit:Bang Showbiz
Gary Lineker's colleagues are standing by him credit:Bang Showbiz

'Match of the Day' will air without presenters, pundits, or commentators on Saturday (11.03.23) night.

On Friday (10.03.23), the BBC announced Gary Lineker would be "stepping back" from the show following a row over impartiality - which began when he tweeted to criticise Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s asylum policy and likened the language used by ministers to "that used by Germany in the 30s" - and as a result, a number of his colleagues, including Ian Wright, Alan Shearer, Micah Richards, Alex Scott and Jermaine Jenas all said they would not appear on the programme either in a mark of solidarity.

And the BBC have now announced the football highlights show this week will instead "focus on match action".

A spokesperson said in a statement: "Some of our pundits have said that they don't wish to appear on the programme while we seek to resolve the situation with Gary.

"We understand their position and we have decided that the programme will focus on match action without studio presentation or punditry."

As well as the presenters and pundits ruling themselves out of the show, commentators Steve Wilson, Conor McNamara, Robyn Cowen and Steven Wyeth shared a joint statement online, saying they "do not feel it would be appropriate to take part in the programme".

They added: "As commentators on MOTD, we have decided to step down from (Saturday's) broadcast.

"We are comforted that football fans who want to watch their teams should still be able to do so, as management can use World Feed commentary if they wish.

"However, in the circumstances, we do not feel it would be appropriate to take part in the programme."

In addition, the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) have spoken to all Premier League clubs to establish a collective position after a number of players were believed to have sought advice on wishing to support Gary by not fulfilling media duties with the BBC after today's games and have been told they will be given support, Sky News reports.

Following the news of Gary's absence from the show, his friend Ian Wright was the first to say he would act in "solidarity".

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

He was followed by Alan Shearer, who said: "I have informed the BBC that I won't be appearing on MOTD tomorrow night".

Jermaine and Micah both confirmed they weren't "due to be working" on the show this weekend but wouldn't appear if they were asked, while Alex tweeted a GIF of Bernie Sanders saying: "Nah! Not me."

The BBC had said Gary would be "stepping back" until a "clear" position on the 62-year-old former footballer's social media use was reached.

They said in a statement: "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."

Gary hasn't directly commented on the news but his friend Dan Walker claimed on '5News' he had received a text from him saying the BBC had "told" him to step back, rather than it being his decision.