BBC in crisis as sport shows axed
• Turmoil deepens as dozens of top presenters join boycott • Corporation has 'undermined its credibility' says ex-chief • Broadcaster apologises to viewers and pledges to fix mess • Bosses fear they would lose legal fight over Lineker's contract
The BBC is struggling to contain the biggest crisis to hit the corporation in years as it was forced to rewrite its viewing schedule after dozens of stars boycotted shows in support of Gary Lineker. The former England international was told by the BBC to step back from hosting the Saturday edition of the football highlights show Match of the Day in a row over impartiality after he compared the government’s asylum policy to 1930s Germany on Twitter. Dozens of stars have since staged an extraordinary mutiny in solidarity with Lineker, forcing the BBC yesterday to axe Football Focus and Final Score from its schedule and replace the programmes with Bargain Hunt and The Repair Shop. The corporation apologised for the deteriorating situation involving football pundits, commentators and hosts, but the damage was already done and questions are now being raised over whether today’s edition of Match of the Day 2 can go ahead. The BBC was last night braced for a “silent” Match of the Day without commentators, with the show scaled back to include just 20 minutes of air time.