Match of the Day’s strange 20-minute program on Saturday night without Gary Lineker, Ian Wright, and Alan Shearer.
Wright and Shearer refused to work on Saturday’s broadcast in solidarity with Lineker after the BBC’s highest-paid star was temporarily suspended.
Lineker’s tweet criticizing the government’s new asylum policy sparked an impartiality row, which escalated into a full-fledged crisis at BBC headquarters.
This weekend, the BBC’s athletic coverage has been seriously disrupted, with several members of staff refusing to work until Lineker is returned.
There was no music, analysis, or discussion on Saturday’s landmark episode of MOTD.
The Mirror spoke to Lineker’s eldest son, George, who told how his father responded when Wright and Shearer backed out of Saturday’s MOTD in solidarity with their friend and colleague.
George said: “After it all kicked off, me and my brothers messaged him saying: ‘We’re proud of you’ and he replied: ‘Cheers boys’ with a thumbs up emoji.
“Later he told us that he’d been so overwhelmed by the support. He wrote: ‘Shearer and Wrighty backing down made me emotional, it means a lot to me.’
🚨 Ian Wright and Alan Shearer have both confirmed they won't appear on Match of the Day tomorrow in solidarity with Gary Lineker pic.twitter.com/CmkGUg56FV
— MailOnline Sport (@MailSport) March 10, 2023
“I think he did cry when he found out about that. The support has been a positive thing to come out of this. I’ve been messaging him today, just saying: ‘How are you doing Dad, how are you holding up?’ And he replied: ‘All good.'”
Lineker clearly values Wright and Shearer’s friendship, and many MOTD fans will be hoping to see the trio reunited on the world’s most famous football show in the near future.
Ian Wright and Alan Shearer have both informed the BBC that they won't appear on Match Of The Day tomorrow in 'solidarity' with Gary Lineker. pic.twitter.com/5HJAbSz8UG
— ESPN UK (@ESPNUK) March 10, 2023
“To take him off the air for having a voice is harsh, and I think he was surprised, and a bit disappointed,” Lineker’s son added.
“Free speech is important and he shouldn’t have been punished for that. But the reaction to all of this has been more than Dad ever thought it would be, and that just shows he did the right thing.”
On Saturday afternoon, Lineker was at the King Power Stadium to watch his beloved Leicester City fall 3-1 to Chelsea.
It’s uncertain when or how the situation will be handled.
Nevertheless, unless the BBC and Lineker find a deal quickly, they risk losing perhaps Britain’s best football presenter – and possibly some of his colleagues as well.