One of its most famous and best loved presenters has been taken off air – and it appears to be in the midst of a stand-off with no clear exit strategy for either side. 

Saturday’s edition of the BBC’s hugely popular flagship football programme Match of the Day is now without a presenter or pundits.

Sticking to its guns on impartiality has come at a high price for the corporation and opened up new faultlines in the process.

First up, Match of the Day, which saw its star-studded presenting and commentating cast of sport royalty drop out in quick succession or assert that they would not appear on set – in solidarity with Gary Lineker. 

In scenes more reminiscent of the 1960s epic film Spartacus than a football highlights show, presenters and pundits are standing with Gary Lineker, effectively declaring « I’m Spartacus ». 

Ian Wright and Alan Shearer began the exodus from the show this weekend, with Jermaine Jenas and Micah Richards also posting that, if they’d been due to be on the show, they too would have said no. 

Alex Scott has also tweeted, heavily implying she would not present the programme in Gary Lineker’s place.

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