'Lifeless' Match of the Day a BBC nightmare - and Gary Lineker must be laughing at home

 A Match of the Day like never before went ahead without a presenter, pundits or even commentators on Saturday evening - and they even lost faith in their own theme tune

Match of the Day recap: BBC show goes ahead without Gary Lineker, fans notice NO intro

A bungled 20-minute Match of the Day went ahead after the BBC's impartiality stance led to the suspension of Gary Lineker - and exodus of everyone else in the address book.

With viewers already expecting no presenter, pundits or commentators in sight, the biggest shock came when the theme tune was skipped entirely for a shot of the Bournemouth and Liverpool club badges.

A fitting prelude to the broadcast came in the form of an apology from the faceless voiceover artist - with seemingly no one keen to be associated with the rock-bottom package .

Billed as simply 'Premier League Highlights' the crowd noise provided the only solace as five minutes were gifted to Liverpool's shock defeat at Bournemouth. Manchester United fans might've hoped for the same speedy glazing-over of their 7-0 defeat on Match of the Day 2 last Sunday.

Unsurprisingly, Lineker was not shown in the crowd at the King Power as his beloved Leicester were swept aside 3-1 by Graham Potter's Chelsea, with the BBC needing to cast their own spell if things are to get back to some normality in the coming week.

Viewers were left almost in agreement by the 'utterly bizarre' broadcasting slot which first hit television in 1964, with the most recognisable football programme in the world made unrecognisable.

One Twitter user wrote: "Blimey. This is as barebones as it could possibly be. No theme music. No commentary. They've really f***ked this up haven't they?"

A second wrote: "This is such a strange block of TV. No commentary, no announcer, not even an opening theme. Just awkward crowd noises. It's so awkward."

A third agreed: "No theme tune. No commentary. Just raw stadium noise. God it’s weird. Makes you realise how important commentary is to the viewing experience."

A fourth concluded: "What an utterly bizarre watch this is."

After the BBC announced Lineker had been asked to 'step back' from Match of the Day hosting duties on Friday - over a tweet he sent criticising the government's use of language around its immigration policy and likening it to that used in 1930s Germany - his fellow pundits reacted.

Ian Wright and Alan Shearer announced they would not be appearing on the iconic highlights show, and Micah Richards and Alex Scott soon followed.

With Football Focus and Final Score getting the chop on Saturday, what would happen with the flagship show remained up in the air, with a host of commentators also withdrawing.

It remains to be seen what might happen to MOTD going forward, with BBC director general Tim Davie saying his 'number one priority' is getting Lineker back on our screens.

The process in doing that might be more difficult than he anticipates, with Lineker's sitting out of the flagship show leading to a likely review of impartiality guidelines at the BBC.

Due to go live again next weekend, the iPlayer website names Mark Chapham for both the Saturday and Sunday showings, with the only thing certain being that the bungling BBC need a solution, and fast.

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