The BBC’s live coverage of Sunday’s WSL game between Chelsea and Manchester United will go ahead – but there will be no presenter as pundits continue to boycott the broadcaster
Sunday’s pivotal WSL game between Chelsea and Manchester United, which is due to be shown live on the BBC, looks set to air without a presenter or pundits as the corporation continues to be plagued by the fallout from their decision to axe Gary Lineker.
The BBC announced in a statement on Friday that the Match of the Day host would be “stepping back” from his role after breaching the broadcaster’s guidelines with comments he made on social media criticising the government’s new Migration Bill.
A host of BBC Sport regulars, including Alex Scott and Mark Chapman, refused to work on Saturday in solidarity with Lineker – leaving the broadcaster with little option but to pull Football Focus and Final Score from their weekend schedule.
That disruption was always expected to affect Sunday’s programming, and the WSL offering between Chelsea and Manchester United is expected to be impacted by the crisis that has engulfed the BBC over the past 48 hours.
While there were ‘major concerns’ over the broadcast going ahead at all, the game from Kingsmeadow is expected to be aired on BBC 2 on Sunday lunchtime – albeit without any presentation.
Scott is a regular host of the BBC’s WSL coverage but has already outlined her stance on the broadcaster’s handling of Lineker. Kelly Somers, another of the BBC’s WSL hosts, also took to social media to confirm she would not be working on Saturday after reports had incorrectly claimed she was set to stand in for Scott on Football Focus.
The disruption to Sunday’s coverage will come as a major blow to the BBC – the meeting between Chelsea and Manchester United a pivotal one, with the Red Devils currently just a solitary point ahead of Emma Hayes’ side at the top of the WSL.
Away from Sunday’s match, which is due to kick off at 12:30pm, it remains to be seen whether Match of the Day 2 will go ahead after Chapman, the show’s regular host, pulled out of his role on BBC Radio 5 Live on Saturday afternoon.
Fans slammed a condensed, 20-minute Match of the Day which aired without any commentary on Saturday night after several BBC commentators joined pundits in boycotting this weekend’s broadcast. The pitiful offering preceded a grovelling apology by BBC director general Tim Davie.
Speaking on Saturday night, Davie said: “I’m sorry audiences have been affected and they haven’t got the programming. As a keen sports fan I know to miss programming is a real blow and I’m sorry about that. We are working very hard to resolve this situation and make sure we get output on air.”
He added: “Everyone wants to calmly resolve [the] situation. Gary Lineker’s the best in the business – that’s not for debate.”