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BBC sporting schedule hit by extra disruption as more presenters pull out

Sports presenter Alex Scott will not host Football Focus – which appears to have been dropped from the BBC’s schedule at the last moment and replaced by Bargain Hunt – further disrupting the company’s sporting schedule.

The former Arsenal star said “it doesn’t feel right for me to continue with the show” as she joined a string of presenters withdrawing from BBC shows after pundit Gary Lineker was told he should to retire from moderating Match Of The Day in a dispute over impartiality.

The broadcaster has not yet confirmed if the show, which is due to air Saturday midday, has been officially cancelled.

Former England player Scott wrote on Twitter: “I made a decision last night that even though I love my show and we’ve had an incredible week winning an SJA for Football, it doesn’t feel right for me to continue the show Focus have won Today.

“Hopefully I’ll be back in the chair next week.”

Kelly Somers also confirmed she won’t be presenting a BBC show on Saturday, after former England footballers and MOTD regulars Alan Shearer and Ian Wright announced on Friday night they were boycotting the show in solidarity with Lineker.

Expert Glenn Murray withdrew from his appearance on Football Focus and Final Score on Saturday.

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The former Brighton striker tweeted: “I was supposed to be in Media City today but thinking about it last night I felt it was the right thing to do today to step down from Focus & Score.

“I hope normal service resumes next week.”

Welsh presenter Jason Mohammad also confirmed he would not be hosting Final Score on Saturday afternoon.

He tweeted: “As you know, Final Score is a TV show that is very close to my heart.

“However, I informed the BBC this morning that I will not be presenting the show on BBC One this afternoon.”

On Friday night, several commentators on the show issued a joint statement online announcing they were stepping down from Saturday’s broadcast.

A previous joint statement from Match Of The Day commentators, including Steve Wilson, Conor McNamara, Robyn Rowen and Steven Wyeth, said they “did not feel it was appropriate to participate in the program given the current circumstances”.

The BBC show is set to take place on Saturday night without a presenter, pundits and several regular commentators.

In an earlier statement, the BBC said the program would “focus on match action with no studio presentation or expert knowledge” and said it understood the position of its presenters.

It comes after Lineker, 62, was taken off the air for a tweet comparing the language used to introduce a new government asylum-seekers policy to 1930s Germany.

The channel said it “decided” that Lineker would take a break from presenting the highlight program until an “consensual and clear position” on its use of social media was reached.

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Former BBC chief executive Greg Dyke said the company made a “mistake” and “undermined its own credibility” by taking Lineker off the air.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today program that the company’s precedent is that “news and current affairs staff are expected to be impartial and not the rest of them”.

“When you start applying the rules for news and current affairs to everyone who works for the BBC, where does it stop?” he said.

He added: “There is long-established precedent at the BBC, which is that if you’re an entertainment presenter or a football presenter, you’re not bound by the same (impartiality) rules.

“The real problem today is that the BBC has undermined its own credibility by doing so because it seems – the perception out there – is that the BBC has bowed to government pressure.

“And once the BBC does that, you’re in real trouble.

“The perception out there will be that Gary Lineker, a very popular TV presenter, has been taken off the air following government pressure on a particular issue.”

A spokesman for the Professional Footballers’ Association said in a statement on Twitter that they had been “informed that players involved in tonight’s games will not be asked to participate in Match Of The Day interviews.”

It continued: “The PFA has spoken to members who wanted to take a common position and show their support for those who have chosen not to be part of today’s programme.

“During these discussions we made it clear that as their union we would support any members who may face consequences for choosing not to meet their broadcasting obligations.

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“This is a sensible decision that ensures players are not put in that position now.”

Richard Ayre, former head of editorial policy at the BBC, said the channel’s reputation was “bigger and more important” than anyone, including Gary Lineker.

Mr Ayre told BBC Breakfast on Saturday that there will be “real street fighting” between political parties ahead of the general election.

“The BBC must, at this time of all times, be as forthright as possible between parties and avoid taking sides in its own output, and the BBC believes it must also ensure that key people identified as The BBC go in public also a clear line in what she says in her private social network,” he said.

As Lineker stepped down from presenting Match Of The Day, Mr Ayre continued: “It is a sad occasion for viewers, for anyone with an interest in football it will be very sad not to be able to meet Gary can reconcile.

“He’s superlative, he’s absolutely exceptional, not just as a football expert of course, but I don’t think in my 50+ years at the BBC I’ve never come across such a talented TV presenter.

“He’s amazing and it will be very sad when he goes but honestly the BBC and its reputation is bigger and more important than anyone, even Gary.”

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