Daily Mail

Commentato­rs were hit with widespread abuse


summoned to a meeting with management via Zoom today at which they will be asked for their views. Should a resolution be reached it would avert a tricky situation ahead of this weekend’s FA Cup action with the threat of legal action if full commentary and analysis is not available. The BBC are due to televise Manchester City v Burnley on Saturday and Brighton v Grimsby on Sunday, and failure to deliver the full service would see the corporatio­n in breach of contract.

Following Saturday’s shortened, commentary-less Match of the Day, last night’s Match of the Day 2 followed a similar format. Elsewhere, no presenters or commentato­rs from the BBC were at the televised 12.30pm Women’s Super League clash between Chelsea and Manchester United, with BBC 2 instead taking a world feed commentary. The FA are not expected to seek compensati­on due to the exceptiona­l circumstan­ces involved but would take a different view if the FA Cup quarter-finals were compromise­d. BBC staffer Steve Crossman failed to present Radio 5 Live’s afternoon sports show with podcasts aired instead. Like Saturday, there were radio commentari­es of yesterday’s matches, but, again there was no fans’ 606 phone-in after the matches.

Sportsmail columnist Chris Sutton, who features on the 606 show, was prepared to take part but others were not. Davie was on business in Washington DC but faced mounting pressure to resolve a conflict that has brought the broadcaste­r’s sports department to its knees and caused severe internal unrest.

Commentato­r Ian Dennis covered Saturday’s Leeds v Brighton clash and suffered widespread abuse on social media for doing so. John Murray, who commentate­d on yesterday’s Newcastle v Wolves match, referred to ‘a difficult and challengin­g time for colleagues and friends’ at the BBC. Many were appalled by the criticism Dennis received on social media, pointing out that he was simply doing his job.

Lineker was taken off air after a tweet which criticised the Government’s asylum policy in which he likened the language used to ‘that used by Germany in the 30s’. He has received widespread support, with Alan Shearer, Ian Wright and Alex Scott among those to boycott. Sutton, writing in today’s Sportsmail, says he has sympathy with all of those involved. ‘I sincerely hope this messy situation between Gary and the BBC gets resolved so we can see him back on Match on the Day as soon as possible,’ he said. ‘I support free speech but the situation is complicate­d and I feel greatly for BBC staffers who aren’t sure what to do and freelancer­s who are losing work because of this situation. People shouldn’t be put into a position where they have to choose between work or supporting Gary. You can do both.’

The Premier League will not seek compensati­on following the interrupte­d coverage as both parties are understood to have breached the terms of their contract. Match of the Day failed to meet the production standards expected by the Premier League, but top-flight clubs also failed to meet their contractua­l commitment­s by withdrawin­g players and managers from interviews.

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