Mark Lawrenson sets record straight on BBC sacking with new theory – 'that was a problem' – Football News

Mark Lawrenson sets record straight on BBC sacking with new theory – 'that was a problem'

Mark Lawrenson believes he was sacked due to his age (Image: PA)

Mark Lawrenson has opened up about a bitter taste left by his departure from Match of the Day and Football Focus – which he believes was because of his age. Lawrenson criticised the BBC for not being upfront with him.

The 67-year-old former professional footballer – who transitioned into a successful media career as a pundit on MOTD from 1997 to 2018 and on Football Focus until his retirement at the end of the 2021/22 season – feels he was pushed out because he was getting old, rather than leaving by mutual agreement.

Speaking on Rob Moore’s Disruptors Podcast, the Liverpool icon reflected: “So basically what happened was, Dan Walker left and he found out that he wasn’t going to be kept on through his agent I think. So I suddenly thought, ‘Well if he’s going, I’m probably next because of my age’ and low and behold, I was.”

Lawrenson expressed his dissatisfaction with the manner in which the BBC handled his exit, reports the Mirror, continuing: “The thing with the BBC for me was just the way that they did it really as much as anything.

“When I stopped doing Match of the Day as opposed to Football Focus, I met the head honcho in terms of football – and I think they’d moved to Manchester then.

“They said, ‘Come on, let’s come and have a lunch’ and all that and I’m thinking, ‘Oh this is good’ because normally when someone asks you to come and have lunch you’re having a good time.

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Mark Lawrenson working for Liverpool TV

Lawrenson was let go by BBC in 2022 (Image: PA)

“He’s asking me to come to the lunch and he’s telling me that I’m not doing Match of the Day anymore. And do you know what the worst thing was? We sat down and hadn’t ordered or anything and he said, ‘Oh you know, we’re going to change it – you’re just going to do Football Focus’. What I ordered he ate. Brilliant.”

While Lawrenson admitted that it was funny looking back, he was far from amused at the time. When asked by Moore if he thought that he was told the real reason why he was being cut from Match of the Day, Lawrenson added that he thinks the sentence used was “we’re going to change a thing round”, which came as a shock to the presenter.

He also said that he received a phone call about Football Focus just before the 2021/22 season concluded, adding: “They rang me up in March time and said, ‘Oh Lawro we’re going to take Football Focus on the road and we don’t think you’ll want to do that’ and I went, ‘Well it would have been nice to have been asked, wouldn’t it? ‘ And they said, ‘Well you know what it’s like’ and I said, ‘No, not really’.

Lawrenson pictured as his BBC exit was announced

Lawrenson pictured as it was announced that he would be leaving the BBC live on Football Focus (Image: BBC sport)

“So then obviously I knew that I was going. But I think one of the problems with the Beeb was that they don’t really understand things like you’ve been a footballer, and sometimes you get left out – and you get taken off the pitch. And it’s as though they can’t tell you the bad news – they can’t say, ‘Look, you’ve had a fantastic run but we’re going to change it all around and thanks very much but no thanks’. So that for me was a problem really as much as anything.”

When quizzed on whether he ever discovered why the BBC officially axed him from MOTD and Football Focus, the presenter confessed he never asked and “just left them to it”. He hinted that age might have played a part in their decision which sullied his two-decade-long association with the corporation.

“I’d been around the world either in front of the camera or working in terms of commentary and all those kinds of things, and I loved it to death. And it’s always a shock when it’s something like that but yeah, they could have dealt with it so much better,” he argued.

However, Lawrenson also pondered that perhaps the BBC was aiming towards greater diversity in dismissing certain presenters and stated that its endeavour for increased inclusion is “absolutely fine”.

He said: “It got to me the way that they did it,” and went on to say, “I didn’t think that I should have lost my job. And whether I was six or 60 it shouldn’t have made any difference. In fact, if I’d have been six I probably would have spoken more sense.”

The BBC has yet to issue a response to Lawrenson’s remarks.