Ian Wright and Alan Shearer appeared as pundits on the Premier League’s television coverage of Fulham vs Arsenal after boycotting the BBC’s Match of the Day in solidarity with host Gary Lineker.
The duo, who regularly appear on the BBC show, refused to appear in solidarity with Lineker who was removed from the programme by the BBC because of comments he made on Twitter criticising the government over their horrendous illegal immigration plans and a right-wing backlash that has lasted days and covered many front pages.
As a result, the Saturday night show only aired for 20 minutes without any punditry team, commentary or theme music.
In addition, Alex Scott withdrew from hosting Football Focus, Final Score did not air and the BBC’s Five Liver coverage was also hit.
However, Wright and Shearer joined presenter Jules Breach as pundits on the game being played at Craven Cottage.
Wright and Shearer were highly respected during their playing careers and are known for their insightful and entertaining analysis of matches.
The move highlights the solidarity among the former players and their willingness to stand up for each other in the face of perceived injustice.
Lineker has refused to apologise and Ian Wright has stated that he will leave BBC Match of the Day permanently if Lineker is fired.
The BBC is said to be holding urgent talks with Lineker to resolve the row that has led to his absence from hosting Match of the Day.
The talks are inching forward and aim to get Lineker back on air this week, according to senior sources at the BBC.
The breakthrough would be announced immediately if an agreement is reached.
BBC director-general Tim Davie, who previously stood as a Conservative Councillor along with being deputy chair of the Hammersmith and Fulham Conservative Association, has said he wants to see Lineker back on air and “world-class sports coverage” returned to audiences.
Gary Lineker’s son, George, has said in an exclusive interview with The Mirror that his father would return to host Match of the Day if asked, but will never apologise for his comments on social media.
George described his father as “a good man, a good human” and said he was proud of him for standing by his word, adding that he would always speak up for people who don’t have a voice.
“To take him off the air for having a voice is harsh, and I think he was surprised, and a bit disappointed.
“Free speech is important and he shouldn’t have been punished for that.
“But the reaction to all of this has been more than Dad ever thought it would be, and that just shows he did the right thing. After it all kicked off, me and my brothers messaged him saying: ‘We’re proud of you’ and he replied: ‘Cheers boys’ with a thumbs-up emoji.
“Later he told us that he’d been so overwhelmed by the support.
“He wrote: ‘Shearer and Wrighty backing down [sic] made me emotional, it means a lot to me.’
“I think he did cry when he found out about that. The support has been a positive thing to come out of this.
“I’ve been messaging him today, just saying: ‘How are you doing Dad, how are you holding up?’ And he replied: ‘All good.’
“He’s been at Leicester today and he got a really good reaction – there were banners in support of him in the stadium. When he comes home from the Leicester game my brother is cooking him a cottage pie.
“Then he’ll probably go to bed and maybe watch the show in the morning, before we go for a Sunday roast.”