BBC Sport has been split by an internal war after Gary Lineker was reinstated.
Insiders revealed a “major rift” in the department, with some angry at the manner in which the debacle played out and a cursory poll seen by Sportsmail revealing overwhelming disdain for chiefs.
On a day of unprecedented outrage at broadcaster Salford’s headquarters, Sportsmail understands the angry staff who confronted sports director Barbara Slater over the way bosses handled the saga in a series of very uncomfortable meetings.
The survey, which was provided to Slater, showed that 80 percent of respondents rated senior management zero out of five for the way they handled the situation.
There was also apparent skepticism of Slater when she claimed bosses “didn’t see how she could go down” after a number of pundits refused to work and brought the presenter to his knees after Lineker’s suspension.
There is an internal war at the BBC over bringing back Match of the Day host Gary Lineker
An internal survey revealed to Sportsmail showed anger at the way the situation had been handled
BBC Sport director Barbara Slater has confronted angry staff at the Salford headquarters
Lineker’s criticism was voiced, and Slater was asked if he and the other critics were aware of the impact their actions would have on the staff.
Some asked why someone else couldn’t present Match of the Day, which ended up being over 20 minutes long with no comment. Slater, who had apologized for the mess, sparked more anger when she replied: “Because he (Lineker) is the best on the field.”
Some employees are also irritated by the perceived inconsistency. Sportsmail understands that social media accounts are closely monitored by BBC officials, with some reprimanded if they “like” a political viewpoint on Twitter.
And there is frustration, made clear to Slater, that this was a mess made by the BBC, along with doubt that the review promised by managing director Tim Davie will be effective.
Anger was also raised at the lack of leadership and communication, with many staff members being left in the dark until the last minute about whether or not the shows would go ahead. Slater, who wanted the meetings to remain confidential, added that she had “nothing but remorse” for the events.
Davy suspended Lineker after he compared the government’s language on asylum seekers to Germany in the 1930s. This led to boycotts by big names including Ian Wright, Alan Shearer and Mark Chapman.
Radio 5’s live programmes, including 606 call-ins and a build-up to Saturday and Sunday matches, were also cancelled.
Commentators Ian Dennis, Alistair Bruce Paul and John Murray covered the matches for 5 Live in extremely stressful circumstances. They were subjected to abuse online, with some calling them “scabs”.
There were also doubts about the effectiveness of the revision promised by director Tim Davie
Staff explained to Slater (R) that there was frustration with how Lineker’s (L) situation was handled
On Monday, Davey expressed his condolences to those affected, announcing a review of social media guidelines. Lineker will return for Saturday’s FA Cup quarter-final between Burnley and Manchester City.
“Everyone understands that this has been a difficult period for the staff, shareholders, presenters and, most importantly, our audience,” Davey said. “I apologize for this.”
Lineker tweeted: ‘After a few days of fantasy I’m glad we managed to carve our way through this.
I would like to thank all of you for the wonderful support, and in particular my colleagues at BBC Sport, for the wonderful show of solidarity.
“Football is a team game but their support has been overwhelming.”
“This weekend has been a miserable and difficult one for everyone involved,” Chapman told Monday Night Club on 5 Live.
“It is ironic that in the dispute over neutrality we are all seen as taking sides, and I feel there are lessons that everyone involved should learn.”
Teammate Chris Sutton of Sportsmail added, “I’m glad the situation has been resolved.”
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