‘I need to be at the top of my game… there’s a top-notch football presenter available on Saturdays now!’: Jeff Stelling pokes fun at Gary Lineker’s Match of the Day row as he opens up Soccer Saturday with joke he is looking over his shoulder
- Gary Lineker has been suspended by the BBC following a controversial tweet
- The broadcaster was stood down from this evening’s edition of Match of the Day
- Jeff Stelling poked fun at the row with his opening remarks on Soccer Saturday
Sky Sports presenter Jeff Stelling poked fun at Gary Lineker’s Match of the Day row in his opening Soccer Saturday remarks.
Lineker, 62, was stood down from the BBC’s flagship football highlights programme amid an ongoing row over a tweet he sent out earlier this week which compared the language of the government’s latest immigration policy to something out of Germany in the 1930s.
Various BBC broadcasters and colleagues of Lineker have themselves declined to take part in the network’s extensive sports coverage this afternoon, leaving the broadcaster in the midst of a crisis.
Refusing to pass up on the opportunity, Stelling referenced Lineker’s plight in his opening Soccer Saturday remarks, having already shown support for his fellow broadcaster.
‘I need to be at the top of my game today because there’s a top-notch football presenter available on Saturdays now,’ he said.
Jeff Stelling poked fun at Gary Lineker’s Match of the Day row in his opening Soccer Saturday remarks
Lineker has been indefinitely suspended by the BBC with his return to the Match of the Day hot-seat uncertain
Stelling, who announced his retirement ahead of the end of last season before reversing his decision, has defended Lineker on social media this week.
Taking on Matthew Syed on Wednesday, Stelling tweeted: ‘Shame to hear a journalist Matthew Syed not supporting freedom of speech re Gary Lineker.
‘I was brought up to believe it was fundamental that every journalist should believe in that. But it seems freedom of speech for some, not all.’
Syed fired back, writing: ‘I believe in free speech completely. But I also believe in the freedom of the BBC to put conditions on its main broadcasters – which they should uphold.’
Before Stelling responded: ‘It wasn’t on the BBC. It was on social media. He is a freelance working for others as well as the BBC. I don’t know the guy really but just don’t get why you felt the need to put the boot in!
He added: ‘Surely Alastair Campbell made you wonder why you had bothered trying to do it too.’
Will Gary Lineker return to MOTD in the future?
Yes – 4/6
No – 11/10
Odds provided by Paddy Power
Stelling’s jokes on Soccer Saturday come as Mark Chapman, amid a raft of broadcaster boycotts, revealed he would not be hosting Saturday afternoon’s 5Live coverage.
The boycotts have plunged the BBC into an enormous scheduling crisis, with Football Focus, Final Score and all of the afternoon’s football kick-offs cancelled.
Chapman, who hosts a number of shows across the BBC’s television and radio networks, including their Saturday afternoon sport coverage on 5Live, Match of the Day Two on Sunday evenings and the Monday Night Club, has become the latest presenter to push back against the BBC’s decision to suspend Lineker.
It was speculated following the news that there would be no live football coverage that 5Live could instead provide rugby commentary.
The news comes as it emerged Colin Murray would not be in the studio to host his Saturday morning show Fighting Talk.
Chapman’s decision to step away from hosting 5Live’s coverage on Saturday afternoon has plunged the BBC into an even deeper crisis, with both their radio and television networks deeply impacted by the last 24 hours.
The BBC programme is in ‘crisis’ with no presenters, pundits or commentators for the first time in its history after the corporation’s decision to boot Gary Lineker off air led to mass walkouts
Gary Lineker was told that he either had to stop his politicised posts or quit the BBC altogether
‘No Fighting Talk today, for obvious reasons,’ Murray tweeted. ‘In the interest of transparency, this was a decision taken by the entire FT team and myself. Bob Mills was still up for it, to be fair.’
The crisis started when Lineker compared the Conservative party’s policy at stopping boats crossing the channel to something out of Germany in the 1930s.
Various Tory politicians and figures rejected the former England striker’s relation, with Suella Braverman, the Home Secretary, labelling them ‘unhelpful’.
‘I think it’s unhelpful to compare our measures, which are lawful, proportionate and – indeed – compassionate, to 1930s Germany,’ she said.
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