MATCH of the Day’s commentators have pulled out of tonight’s show – hours after the BBC said the programme would go ahead without presenters or pundits.
Commentators from an agency are expected to be shipped in to cover Saturday’s Prem games amid chaos sparked by Gary Lineker’s suspension from Match of the Day.
In a tweet, Steve Wilson, one of the flagship footie show’s commentators, said him and his colleagues will not be heard in Saturday’s episode.
He explained on Friday: “As commentators on MOTD, we have decided to step down from tomorrow night’s broadcast.
“We are comforted that football fans who want to watch their teams should still be able to do so, as management can use World Feed commentary if they wish.”
The move means the dulcet tones of commentators Conor McNamara, Simon Brotherton and Robyn Cowen will fall silent tomorrow night.
They will likely be covered by commentary usually provided for football broadcasts outside the UK.
It comes just hours after the BBC said the exodus of pundits acting in solidarity with Mr Lineker means Saturday night’s episode will show only football.
And there will be no studio analysis for viewers.
A BBC spokesperson said: “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.”
Mr Lineker sparked a free speech row when he compared the Governments plans to ban migrants arriving on small boats from settling in Britain with “1930’s Germany”.
The BBC said Mr Lineker’s criticism of the Government’s Illegal Migration Bill on Twitter was a “breach of our guidelines”.
The pundit was then forced to step back from presenting duties on the flagship football show – that he’s presented since 1999 – until a “clear position” on his social media use is agreed.
But his suspension sparked chaos as scores of co-hosts of Match of the Day refused to appear in solidarity with the veteran presenter.
Ian Wright, Alan Shearer, Jermaine Jenas, Alex Scott, Mark Chapman and Micah Richards all refused to fill in amid the chaos.
The row was triggered when Mr Lineker responded to a video on Twitter of Home Secretary Suella Braverman as she presented the Government’s small boats plan.
The legislation will see migrants swiftly detained and removed to either their country of origin or a safe third state within 28 days.
Sharing the clip, Mr Lineker said: “Good heavens, this is beyond awful.”
Responding to another user who described him as “out of order”, he added: “We take far fewer refugees than other major European countries.
“This is just an immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s, and I’m out of order?”
In a statement earlier, the BBC outlined they had undergone “extensive discussions” with the ex-England star, 62, following the furore.
While the Beeb praised his sports coverage as “second to none” they said he should “keep well away from taking sides” on party political topics.
The full statement read: “The BBC has been in extensive discussions with Gary and his team in recent days.
“We have said that we consider his recent social media activity to be a breach of our guidelines.
“The BBC has 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.
“When it comes to leading our football and sports coverage, Gary is second to none.
“We have never said that Gary should be an opinion free zone, or that he can’t have a view on issues that matter to him, but we have said that he should keep well away from taking sides on party political issues or political controversies.”