More than half of the British public think the BBC was wrong in suspending Gary Lineker, according to a new poll.
The company aired a trimmed, 20-minute episode of Match of the Day without a presenter, pundits or commentators on Saturday night, after BBC staff boycotted virtually all of the channel’s sports programming earlier in the day.
On Saturday, the BBC’s director-general refused to step down over the series while hinting at a relegation following the decision to suspend Lineker for publishing political tweets.
A new quick poll by YouGov on Saturday night found that a majority (53 per cent) of the British public think the BBC was wrong in forcing Lineker to resign after he made comments on social media about the government’s asylum policy.
The data shows that just over a quarter (27%) think the broadcaster was right to suspend it and a fifth (20%) don’t know.
Labor (75%) and Liberal Democrat (73%) voters are the most likely to think the BBC made the wrong decision, compared with just over a third (36%) of Conservatives. This compares with half (51%) of Tory voters believing the broadcaster made the right decision, along with 10% of Labor voters and 14% of Liberal Democrats.
“We’re sorry we can’t show our normal game of the day”
A message was sent ahead of the broadcast of the match of the day on the BBC apologizing for the change in the football highlights show.
The program was limited to 20 minutes with no accompanying commentary or analysis after other experts, including former England internationals Alan Shearer and Ian Wright, withdrew from the presentation in solidarity with Gary Lineker.
The former England footballer was told to step down from hosting the show after a tweet comparing the language used to introduce a new government asylum seekers policy to 1930s Germany.
Ahead of the show, a Continuity announcer said: “Now on BBC One we are sorry that we are unable to show our normal Match of the Day including commentary tonight.
“But here’s some of the best action from today’s Premier League games.”
Match of the Day was renamed “Premier League Highlights” during its Saturday night airing.
The program aired without presenters, pundits or even its famous theme tune – only short highlight clips of the day’s matches were aired instead.
A graphic appeared between each clip showing which teams were playing.
The usual match commentary has been replaced by the sounds of the crowd in each stadium.