Match of the Day 2 to be only 14 minutes long tonight amid Lineker row


Match of the Day 2 coverage will be only 14 minutes long tonight as the fallout from the Gary Lineker BBC row continues.

On BBC Two, the Women’s Super League Chelsea v Manchester United match kicked off with no pre-match presentation and no pundits – it is aired live using world feed commentary.

Sky News understands BBC Radio 5 Live’s football phone-in programme 606 will not air again tonight.

Lineker, who has not tweeted or commented publicly since he was suspended by the corporation on Friday, dodged reporters’ questions again as he left his home in south-west London to walk his dog.

“I can’t say anything,” he told the media.

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Lineker: ‘I can’t say anything at the moment’

It came as his eldest son said he thought the presenter would go back to MOTD – but “won’t ever back down”.

It is the second day the BBC has been forced to reduce its sports coverage. Match Of The Day, usually presented by Lineker, was just 20 minutes long with no commentary or analysis and without even its distinctive theme tune.

On Sunday, the BBC confirmed that MOTD2 would be cut to 14 minutes. Jermain Defoe had previously announced he would not appear as a pundit on the highlights show.

Gary Lineker outside his home in London
Gary Lineker outside his home in London

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BBC Radio 5 Live programme schedules have also been affected for a second day.

Regular sport programmes that were due to be on-air from midday have been replaced with previously aired episodes of the podcast series Spygate – Sport’s Strangest Crimes.

5 Live Sport’s schedule is due resume at 2pm with live Premier League commentary of Fulham v Arsenal, and updates of Manchester United v Southampton.

On Saturday, Football Focus and Final Score were taken off the air.

The programmes were hit after sports presenters and pundits – including Ian Wright, Alan Shearer, Jason Mohammad and Alex Scott – said they would not work, in solidarity with Lineker, who was suspended after tweeting criticism of the government’s new asylum seeker bill.

However, Match of the Day was watched by 2.5 million people – up nearly half a million compared to the previous week.

The row over impartiality has turned into a major crisis for the public broadcaster.

Hunt ‘profoundly disagrees’ with Lineker comments

Jeremy Hunt, speaking to Sophy Ridge on Sunday, said he “profoundly” disagrees with Lineker’s comments.

But the chancellor appeared to row back from demanding that Lineker apologise.

“If you believe in BBC independence, then it’s not for the chancellor or any other government minister to say how these issues are resolved,” he said.

Mr Hunt added: “The central thing that people want to know is that there isn’t any kind of political agenda in the way the BBC goes about its business, which I’m not saying there is, but that is the confidence people need to have.”

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‘Sorry’ BBC boss wants Lineker back on air

BBC wants to get Lineker ‘back on air’

The BBC’s director general has said bosses are “working very hard” to find a solution.

Tim Davie told the BBC: “We are working very hard to resolve this situation and make sure we get output on air.

“I am in listening mode. I want to make sure that going forward we have a workable solution.”

He added: “To be clear, success for me is: Gary gets back on air.”

He will always speak up for people who don’t have a voice’

Lineker’s eldest son George said his father had been “a bit disappointed” by the BBC’s reaction but he would not “back down on his word”.

Speaking to the Sunday Mirror, he said Lineker was pulled off the show “because he wouldn’t apologise.

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Sky’s Rachael Venables explains what the impartiality rules are, and whether they have been broken.

“But he will always speak up for people who don’t have a voice.

“He is passionate about helping refugee charities – he took in two refugees who he is still in touch with and trying to help.

“It means a lot to him to stand up for people whose only hope is to escape a country with only the clothes on their back.

“That’s why he has been so firm.

“Will he go back to Match Of The Day? I think so – he loves Match Of The Day. But he won’t ever back down on his word.”

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