BBC crisis over Gary Lineker suspension as presenters walk out

The BBC is mired in a mounting crisis over its decision to force Gary Lineker to “step down” from hosting its highest-profile sports program after accusing him of violating its policy of political impartiality.

Lineker’s suspension from the Premier League highlights show game of the day has sparked a strike by other BBC staff and contributors, throwing weekend sports coverage into chaos.

The case comes as BBC chief executive Tim Davie is trying to bolster the company’s impartiality, which he says was his top priority when he took over in September 2020. But the dispute adds pressure on the company’s leadership for its perceived pro-government bias.

“This is the biggest clusterfuck since the Newsnight debacle,” said a senior BBC executive, referring to a scandal surrounding sex abuse allegations in 2012.

On Tuesday, Lineker responded to the government’s recent migration policy by tweeting that it was “immeasurably cruel,” adding that the language being used about migrants “is not dissimilar to that used in Germany in the 1930s.” used”. The BBC suspended him on Friday, saying he would “resign” from the show.

Some BBC sports coverage was disrupted on Saturday as anger mounted over his suspension. afternoon shows Focus football And bottom line were canceled while radio station 5 Live switched from scheduled sports programming to podcasts.

Alex Scott, a former England international and host of Focus footballHe tweeted that “it just doesn’t feel right to go ahead with the show today.”

While game of the day will take place, the BBC was forced to radically change its format after Lineker’s co-hosts withdrew. The show usually features highlights from the day’s Premier League football matches and discussions about the matches. The BBC said it would instead “focus on match action with no studio presentation or expert knowledge” this week.

Soccer players are not asked to participate in interviews for the show. The players’ union, the Professional Footballers’ Association, said it spoke to its members “who wanted to take a common position and show their support for those who chose not to be a part of tonight’s episode”.

Lineker, who has been a household name in Britain since the 1980s, has been a star player for England at two World Cups and has presented game of the day since 1999.

He owns a third of Goalhanger Podcasts, which produces The Rest is Politics, with former Labor spindoctor Alastair Campbell and Rory Stewart, a Liberal ex-Tory MP. One BBC editor called it “the house journal of centrist fathers”.

The BBC has long been accused by some right-wing politicians of being biased towards liberal views. A senior BBC executive said Lineker’s liberal personal policies were “the problem”. “That would be less of a problem if he were a Maoist.”

BBC journalists have reported in recent years a growing unease within the company over the management team’s interpretation of impartiality. “Editors [are increasingly] to forestall the inevitable grievances at Downing Street,” said an insider.

Richard Sharp, the chairman of the BBC, has been criticized for failing to disclose his alleged involvement in discussions about a loan of up to £800,000 for Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister who recommended him for the role shortly afterwards. Sharp has denied wrongdoing and refuses to quit. He said he did not facilitate or arrange funding for Johnson.

Greg Dyke, the former general manager, said on Saturday that “the BBC has undermined its own credibility [by suspending Lineker] because it seems – the perception out there – that the BBC has bowed to government pressure”.

The row has also pressured the BBC over their continued employment of Lord Alan Sugar, who supported the Conservatives in 2017 and 2019. Sugar presents The Apprentice, A reality show.

However, a senior producer said that following the Sharp revelations, they felt pressured to find stories that would not be helpful to Conservatives. “It was a bit like ‘let’s show them we’re not biased.'”

The dispute has BBC management looking for a means to resolve the standoff with some of its most prominent employees.

A former BBC executive said: “They didn’t let themselves out.” Several insiders speculated that either Lineker or Davie could be coerced.

Another former manager said: “If you’re Tim [Davie] and you made impartiality your misfortune, you must die on this hill. In fact, it’s Tim’s Hill. If anyone is going to die, it has to be him. But we can’t have that.”

“The obvious thing is to do an independent review of the rules, get Gary back and ask him not to tweet about it in the meantime.”

As a sports presenter, Lineker already has more leeway than BBC journalists to express his opinions publicly. Some critics of the group have suggested loosening the rules further.

In a statement, the BBC said: “The BBC will only be able to offer limited sports programming this weekend and our timetables are being updated to reflect this. We apologize for these changes which we recognize will be disappointing for BBC sports fans. We are working hard to resolve the situation and hope to be able to do so soon.”

Additional reporting by Josh Noble BBC crisis over Gary Lineker suspension as presenters walk out

Brian Ashcraft is an automatic aggregator of the all world’s media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials, please contact us by email – The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Related Articles

Back to top button