The BBC has announced that Saturday’s Match of the Day will still be broadcast, but it will be a shortened 20-minute version without any commentary. This follows the suspension of Gary Lineker, the show’s presenter, after he criticised the UK government’s new asylum policy. Lineker’s suspension has led to a number of other presenters and pundits, including Alan Shearer, Ian Wright, Micah Richards and Alex Scott, withdrawing from their roles in solidarity. Even the commentators have agreed to withdraw from their posts around the grounds on Saturday, leaving the Match of the Day broadcast threadbare. It had been suggested that producers of the show could use the Premier League’s global commentary feed, but The Athletic has reported that they will not be able to do so as the BBC do not have the rights. The BBC considered scrapping the programme entirely, but they have decided to go ahead with a shortened version without any punditry, commentary or interviews.
The decision to suspend Lineker came after he tweeted a comparison between the language used by the UK government in their new asylum policy and that of Germany in the 1930s. The resulting backlash from BBC employees has seen TV shows Football Focus and Final Score axed, while much of Radio 5 Live’s football coverage has been abandoned. The BBC has apologised for the lack of sports coverage on Saturday and stated that they will only be able to bring limited sport programming this weekend. They are working hard to resolve the situation and hope to do so soon.
While chaos reigns at the BBC, talkSPORT has stepped in to pick up the slack. After most of Radio 5 Live’s football coverage was cancelled on Saturday, talkSPORT launched ‘Game of the Day’ at 10.30pm that night. The show featured every single Premier League game dissected, analysed and comprehensively covered, with a cheeky talkSPORT twist. This included live commentary games, Bournemouth vs Liverpool and Tottenham vs Nottingham Forest. The show was hosted by Sam Matterface, featuring punditry from ex-Chelsea defender Scott Minto, with more details to come.
Listeners could tune into talkSPORT from 10:30pm for ‘Game of the Day’ as they looked back on that day’s Premier League action. They could listen on DAB, the TalkSPORT APP, ask their smart speaker to play TalkSPORT or watch live on the TalkSPORT YouTube page.