Lineker row threatens to topple BBC chiefs and hit Tory asylum plans

Broadcaster forced to slash TV coverage, while BBC chair and director general face calls to resign over crisis

The row triggered by Gary Lineker’s suspension from the BBC was spiralling out of control on Saturday night as it threatened to bring down the corporation’s most senior leaders and even derail parts of the government’s controversial new asylum policy.

The crisis reached new heights as the BBC was forced to dramatically scale down its TV and radio sports coverage and put its Match of the Day programme – normally fronted by Lineker – on air without presenters, pundits or the normal post-match interviews with players, many of whom came out in solidarity with him. The show, scheduled for 80 minutes, will only air for 20 minutes tonight.

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