Gary Lineker Says Match Of The Day Still 'Sets The Tone' For Football TV Coverage
Gary Lineker "has launched a passionate defence of Match of the Day by suggesting that the BBC's often maligned football highlights programme still 'sets the tone' and 'leads the way' in its coverage of the game," according to Donald McRae of the London GUARDIAN. He "also voiced his belief that enduring criticism of the programme, which the former England striker began to present in 1999, has been led by the Daily Mail, and 'their anti-BBC issue.'" Scrutiny of Match of the Day "has intensified since the emergence of Gary Neville as a trenchant football pundit at Sky." Lineker admits "I wish we had [Neville] on Match of the Day," but points to the fact that the BBC program "is still much more widely watched than Sky's football shows and that 'we generally hit between six to seven million [viewers] every weekend.'" Lineker's comments follow the announcement that the BBC's leading football pundit, Alan Hansen, "will leave after the World Cup next summer." Lineker: "Match of the Day has fundamentally improved since we got the [TV rights] contract back in 2003, but football is so emotive and that's why people are never going to be entirely satisfied" (GUARDIAN, 9/30).