Gary LinekerPA Media

Match of the Day will air without a studio presenter or pundits after some of its key contributors pulled out.

First Ian Wright and then Alan Shearer said they would not appear after the BBC told Gary Lineker to step back from presenting.

Micah Richards and Jermaine Jenas also said they would not appear, while Alex Scott hinted she would do the same.

It follows an impartiality row over comments Lineker made criticising the government’s new asylum policy.

The BBC says the show on Saturday night will instead “focus on match action”.

A spokesperson said on Friday evening: “Some of our pundits have said that they don’t wish to appear on the programme while we seek to resolve the situation with Gary.

“We understand their position and we have decided that the programme will focus on match action without studio presentation or punditry.”

BBC Sport understands a number of players from various clubs contacted the Professional Footballers Association (PFA) on Friday evening to say they may want to show solidarity with Lineker and Match of the Day pundits by boycotting the post-match interviews on the show.

The PFA – which has been in talks with players and clubs on the matter – are believed to be supportive of any players who choose to do so.

In a separate, earlier statement on Friday, the BBC said it considered Lineker’s recent social media activity to be a breach of its guidelines. It said it had “decided that he will step back from presenting Match of the Day until we’ve got an agreed and clear position on his use of social media”.

Ian Wright was the first to say publicly that he would not appear on Saturday’s programme, tweeting: “Everybody knows what Match of the Day means to me, but I’ve told the BBC I won’t be doing it tomorrow. Solidarity.”

Image shows Alan Shearer and Ian Wright

Getty Images

Former Newcastle striker Alan Shearer, who also presents on the show, then said he had “informed the BBC that I won’t be appearing on MOTD tomorrow night”.

Shortly after, ex-Arsenal and Lionesses player Alex Scott hinted that she too would not appear, tweeting a GIF of US politician Bernie Sanders saying “Nah! Not me” with the caption: “FYI…”.

She was followed by former Manchester City defender Richards, who wrote on Twitter: “I was not due to be working on MOTD tomorrow, but if I was, I would find myself taking the same decision that [Ian Wright] & [Alan Shearer] have.”

Ex-Tottenham midfielder Jenas then tweeted: “Been on air with the one show. I wasn’t down to be doing match of the day tomorrow, but if I was I would of said no and stood with my fellow pundits and [Gary Lineker].”

Lineker has not yet publicly commented, but while presenting 5News earlier, former BBC presenter Dan Walker read out a text live on air from the 62-year-old.

Walker said he had messaged Lineker asking: “What is happening. Are you stepping back?”

He said he had received a reply saying: “No, they’ve [the BBC] told me I have to step back.”

The BBC has been told that the Match of the Day production team were not told in advance about the decision.

On Tuesday, Home Secretary Suella Braverman outlined the government’s plans to ban people arriving in the UK illegally from ever claiming asylum, in a bid to address a rise in the number of people crossing the Channel in small boats.

Lineker reacted to it on Twitter calling it an “immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s”.

Lineker has hosted Match of the Day since 1999 and is the BBC’s highest paid star, having earned about £1.35m in 2020-21. He is employed by the BBC on a freelance basis.

Gary Lineker profile

Source: BBC

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