Mark Lawrenson has said being ’65 and a white male’ saw him axed by the BBC
The former Liverpool defender spent 30 years as a pundit with the corporation
However, he was told of format changes to Football Focus in March of this year
He said he came around to supporting Alex Scott as the show’s lead presenter
Mark Lawrenson has said he thinks his departure from the BBC was down to him being ’65 and a white male’.
The former Liverpool defender had spent three decades with the corpoation, including 25 years with Football Focus, before being told of the show’s format changes in March.
Lawrence told The Sunday Times: ‘The Beeb are probably the worst at giving you bad news. It was just, “We are going on the road next season with Focus. We don’t think it is really something for you.”
Ajax head coach Alfred Schreuder admitted that his side could not cope with the intensity of Liverpool after falling to a 2-1 Champions League defeat at Anfield through a late goal from Joel Matip.
‘I haven’t watched the programme since to see if they have gone on the road. They forget you are an ex-footballer and could get subbed or dropped or transferred. Somebody could say to me, “I’m sorry, it’s not good news.’ And I would say, “OK, just tell me what it is.”
‘I just wish they had said to me at the start of my contract last year, ‘You’ve had a great run, thanks very much and you are not working next season.”‘
Lawrenson revealed he should have thought about leaving the show when host Dan Walker left his hosting duties after 12 years in 2021.
While initially vexed with Walker’s replacement, ex-England and Arsenal player Alex Scott, he came around to supporting her.
‘Alex was just thrown in, so from the outset we were trying to make the programme as easy as possible for her,’ he said.
‘It was a little bit frustrating because she would ask you a question and then move on to the next person and I would want to say something I had just thought of, but I just had to shut up because she was just learning.
‘She has done well in fairness to her and she is a lovely kid. It’s a tough gig, because Dan was so good. Some people just don’t want her to be any good, but she has gotten better and better.’
He hit out at criticism for using brand names like Greggs while on the BBC, and when as a radio co-commentator in the wake of Princess Diana’s death in 1997, he was told to avoid any reference to free-kick ‘walls’, in case somebody would have been offended by the language used.
He said he became ‘anti-woke’, and rebelled against the BBC’s very safe culture, often driven by much younger co-workers.
Lawrenson revealed he became ‘anti-woke’ in response to the BBC’s aim not to anger people
Lawrenson revealed: ‘In all my time at the BBC, nobody ever said you can’t say this or that, but the woke thing drives me bonkers.
‘Whereas normally you would say the first thing that comes into your head, you’re now thinking, “If I say that will I get into trouble?” It was a bit like playing with your legs tied together.
‘The BBC is the national broadcaster and I get that, but they are frightened to death of upsetting anybody.’
The BBC and Sky Sports have both had large changes in their on-screen personalities in recent years. Lawrenson’s friend and former Liverpool teammate Phil Thompson was axed from the latter’s Soccer Saturday programming.
Lawrenson said: ‘I spoke to Tommo and it caught him completely by surprise. Is the show any better? No. Not as good? Yeah. It was just a strange, strange thing to do. Now they go around and do theatres and they’re packed out.’
Lawrenson is set to enjoy a farewell lunch with the BBC and 20 guests, something he is keen to embrace after his love of his three decades with the corporation.
Sportsmail has contacted the BBC for comment. (MailOnline)
• Enugu State Commissioner for Youth and Sports, Barr. Lloyd Ekweremadu Jnr
…Says school sports to return
Enugu State Government is determined to see the state-owned football club, Rangers International, return to the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium for its home matches before the end of November, Commissioner for Youth and Sports, Barr. Lloyd Ekweremadu has reassured.
The commissioner gave the assurances while briefing Government House correspondents at the of the State Executive Council meeting, at the weekend.
He said that although the governor’s November deadline was tight, the Ministry was determined to ensure that the Flying Antelopes returned to the stadium, popularly known as The Cathedral, before November.
“The Executive Council was briefed on the issue of the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium and the expected return of our darling Rangers to play at our Cathedral and to generally bring the stadium back to effective use. We deliberated on the targets and steps being taken to meet set targets of the government.
“We are making progress. The turf, which is to be laid on the plain surface, is in Nigeria now. It has passed the very critical stage, which is Customs clearance, but there are a few other steps at the moment.
“Deadlines have been set and those deadlines are quite short and ambitious. But we are very optimistic and we know in fact that we will meet those targets and our goals. So, we are taking very proactive steps to ensure that we beat the target.
“The governor said in his 100 days in office speech that the stadium would be ready for use by November. But we are working round the clock to see that we even beat that time and deliver the stadium back to use in record time. And the Executive Council has resolved to put certain measures in place, which will ensure that we meet such targets.”
He added that creative and innovative steps were being taken, particularly with regards to sponsorship, to bring Rangers to the winning ways of old.
Speaking further, Ekweremadu Jr said measures were being put in place to revive school sports in the state.
He said: “Steps are being taken through collaborations amongst various ministries towards actualising His Excellency’s vision to bring back and revitalize school sports. Our plans include bringing inter-school sports back, to serve as an opportunity for talent discovery, to engage the youth positively and actively as well as keep them away from social vices, crime and the like”, he stated.
Tragedy struck on Tuesday after a Nigerian referee identified as Mustafa Coach 02, was killed by a lightening strike on a football pitch in Madalla Town, Suleja LGA of Niger State
Late Mustafa died during a friendly football match which was disrupted by heavy rainfall followed by thunder strikes.
The deceased, who was said to be a member of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF), met his tragic death on Tuesday evening during the match played on the community’s school field in Madalla Town.
An eyewitness, Muhammed Musa, told Daily Trust that the match in which Suleja and Madalla youths participated, was on half time break around 5:20 pm when the incident happened.
“It was raining and all the footballers along with their fans were taken refuge inside the school’s classrooms. The referee along with his assistant (line man) rushed back to the field, demanding the players to join them.
“They were only at the centre of the pitch when the thunder struck. Two of them were rushed to a hospital, where Sulaiman was confirmed dead on arrival while his assistant was revived.”
A family member of the deceased, who simply gave his name as Ibrahim, said the the late Mustafa was buried Wednesday morning in Suleja town where he lived.