Premier League players will not speak to Match of the Day today in a show of support for Gary Lineker, joining the growing boycott of the programme led by pundits and commentators which has now engulfed Football Focus and Final Score.
The BBC has informed clubs that they will not request players to fulfil their broadcast commitments after the Professional Players Association (PFA) raised concerns.
As reported by The Independent on Friday night, clubs were in debate over whether their managers and players appearing on Match of the Day would almost constitute a “political act”.
Premier League players also wanted to stand in solidarity with Lineker, as well as former professionals Ian Wright and Alan Shearer, and the PFA have confirmed players will not be put in the position of speaking to Match of the Day.
Fines could have been issued for failing to fulfil broadcasting duties, but the PFA were supportive of the stance made by the players. A statement from the PFA said: “We have been informed that players involved in today’s games will not be asked to participate in interviews with Match of the Day.
“The PFA have been speaking to members who wanted to take a collective position and to be able to show their support for those who have chosen not to be part of tonight’s programme.
“During those conversations we made clear that, as their union, we would support all members who might face consequences for choosing not to complete their broadcast commitments.
“This is a common sense decision that ensures players won’t now be put in that position.”
Football Focus host Alex Scott has confirmed she will not be appearing on BBC television today, with the show set to be pulled from the air along with results programme Final Score.
Scott was scheduled to present the weekend’s football preview show at Saturday lunchtime but announced that she would be adding to the boycott of Match of the Day, which the BBC said will go ahead “without studio presentation or punditry”.
It comes after the BBC told Lineker to step down from hosting its flagship football programme due to his social media use, with Wright and Shearer confirming that they would not appear on Match of the Day out of solidarity.
The crisis around Match of the Day has now engulfed the BBC’s two other programmes scheduled to be aired on Saturday. Football Focus host Scott tweeted “it doesn’t feel right for me to go ahead with the show today” while reporter Kelly Somers also said she won’t be appearing on BBC television.
Chris Wise, another BBC Sport reporter, tweeted: “Just to confirm that I won’t be working for BBC Final Score today. The programme is not going ahead. All of us need to stand together.”
Six leading Match of the Day commentators also said they would not take part in Saturday’s programme. A joint statement from the group, which includes regular Match of the Day commentators such as Steve Wilson and Conor McNamara, said “it would not be appropriate to take part in the programme”.
It added to the revolt that has followed the BBC’s decision to pull Lineker from his presenting duties after ruling the former England international’s criticism of the government’s new asylum policy had breached their impartiality guidelines.