BBC recognizes ‘strength of feeling’ among staff when programs are aired

The BBC said it “understood the strength of feeling” among staff over Gary Lineker’s suspension as they struggle to get regular football programming back on the air.

Final Score and Football Focus were pulled from BBC One on Saturday after their respective presenters Jason Mohammad and Alex Scott said they would not be hosting their shows.

Other presenters, pundits and commentators also refused to appear after the company said Lineker would be “retiring” from presenting Match of the Day.

The BBC said Lineker breached its social media guidelines by criticizing the government’s migration policy.

In an email to staff, the company’s sporting director Barbara Slater said: “We understand how worrying this is for all of you – the BBC Sport staff and our freelance community.

“And we understand the strength of the emotion generated by this issue.”

Ms. Slater added, “Individual department heads and senior editors will bring teams up to speed where possible. So if you have specific questions about your role, please reach out to your line manager.

“We are working hard to resolve the situation and will let you know as soon as possible.”

Broadcasting union leader Philippa Childs said the “strength of sentiment from both employees and members of the public should show the company that its handling of the (lineker) problem was a massive misstep”.

Ms Childs said the union had previously written to the BBC’s director-general, telling her its concerns about the company’s chairman, Richard Sharp.

Revelations have surfaced about the role played by Mr Sharp Securing £800,000 loan for Boris Johnson.

Ms Childs added: “Our members, and no doubt many others working at the BBC, will be rightly puzzled as to why those at the highest levels of the company seem immune to the strict guidelines that apply to everyone else.”

On Saturday afternoon, the BBC returned to some semblance of normalcy as it covered Italy v Wales in the Six Nations rugby tournament and Leeds v Brighton in Premier League football.

Radio 5 Live football commentator Ian Dennis at Elland Road said: “It’s a very difficult time for BBC Sport, for those working in the department and we all hope that gets resolved.

“Personally I have found today a very difficult day but I am a BBC staff member, I am a radio commentator for BBC Radio 5 Live and today, like every Saturday afternoon, we offer you, the audience, a service.”

Lineker did not answer reporters’ questions as he left his home in Barnes, south-west London this morning.

The 62-year-old former England striker then traveled to Leicester’s King Power Stadium to see how his hometown club play against Chelsea.

The Association of Sports Journalists said it fully supports its members and industry peers on freedom of expression.

It tweeted: “The SJA would like to express its solidarity on this matter and will continue to monitor developments in the BBC and Gary Lineker story.”

Former England star Alex Scott tweeted that while she loves presenting Football Focus, it “just doesn’t feel right to continue with the show today”.

“Hopefully next week I’ll be back in the chair,” she added.

BBC accused of ‘attacking freedom of expression’ – Lineker Row latest updates

Jason Mohammad commented, “As you know, Final Score is a TV show that is very close to my heart.

“However, I informed you this morning the BBC I won’t be presenting the show on BBC One this afternoon.”

Radio presenter Mark Chapman has stepped down from presenting BBC Radio 5 Live Sport this afternoon, according to Sky News, and the show has also been taken off the air.

Fellow Dion Dublin also said he would not be appearing on the channel, while Jermain Defoe said he would not be in the studio for Match of the Day 2 on Sunday.

Read more: BBC guidelines explained – and do they apply to linekers?

A BBC spokesman said: “The BBC will only be able to bring limited sports programming this weekend and our timetables are being updated to reflect this.

“We regret these changes which we recognize will be disappointing for BBC sports fans.

“We are working hard to resolve the situation and hope to do so soon.”

Match of the Day will take place tonight – but without a presenter, pundits or BBC commentators after Lineker was removed from the program because of him Tweets criticizing the government’s migrant policy.

The BBC has said there will be no “studio presentation or expert insight” in Saturday night’s edition, which will instead focus on “match action”.

The BBC had “undermined its own credibility,” a former BBC director-general said earlier on Saturday.

Greg Dyke, also a former chairman of the FA, told Radio 4’s Today program that the station had been “mistaken” in punching Lineker.

The row began Tuesday when Lineker tweeted his thoughts on the government new policy to stem the flow of small boats crossing of the canal.

He compared the language used by the government to that of Germany in the 1930s when the Nazis came to power.

The BBC felt the tweet violated its editorial guidelines on impartiality and said Lineker had been removed from the Match of the Day until an agreement could be reached on his social media use.

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