"I wouldn't have walked out" from from Match Of The Day amidst Lineker suspension.
Former Liverpool midfielder Graeme Souness has told William Hill’s new podcast, Up Front with Simon Jordan, that he believes punditry should be impartial, adding that he disagrees with pundits boycotting Match Of The Day after Gary Lineker’s suspension following his political comments.
Speaking on William Hill’s Up Front with Simon Jordan, a brand-new podcast hosted by the former Crystal Palace owner who speaks to sports stars and celebrities and challenges their opinions whilst scrutinising their careers, Souness said: “If it had been me, I wouldn’t have walked out. It wasn’t Gary Lineker’s first time upsetting people and I don’t think he should’ve said what he did because when you take the BBC’s money you have to be very careful with what you say politically. Freedom of speech is something that doesn’t apply when you work for the BBC, I think you have to be very careful.
“In my opinion I think punditry should be impartial – I think I’ve tried to be. I’ve been doing it for 20 years and when Liverpool have had barren years, I’ve been critical of them, and when Manchester United were having a great time, I was complementary about them because they are one of the biggest football clubs in the world. They’re one of the handful of clubs that you can hold up with the likes of Liverpool, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, and Barcelona.
“Punditry is like every other thing on TV, sometimes you want to watch it, sometimes you don’t. I like listening to Roy Keane. The chuckle brothers [Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher] can be quite entertaining. I think Gary fights every cause going and I think he oversteps the mark with some of his crusades that he goes on, because in certain subjects no one really wants to listen to Gary Neville.
Liverpool 7-0 Manchester United – I enjoyed that as much as any television I’ve worked on
Referencing the events that occurred off-air before, during and after Liverpool’s victory over their major rivals, Manchester United, in March, Souness gave an insight on his willingness to say exactly what he thinks and other pundits reluctance to do so.
“Roy was fuming inside but he took it gracefully, he knew his team hadn’t turned up, but Gary chose to see it that Man United weren’t that bad and Liverpool weren’t that good.
“We turned up before the game and before we went on air there was a bit of banter amongst us. I said, ‘I think Liverpool will have a really good day today, I think they’ll win, and they’ll win well’. Later, on the air, Gary Neville said to me ‘are you going to repeat what you said off air?’, and I did. Then Liverpool go and do exactly that.
“After the game in the studio it was me, Jamie Carragher, Neville and Roy Keane, and in one of the breaks Gary said, ‘I don’t think Liverpool were very good today’, so I said ‘you called me out before the game, I repeated what I said on air, are you willing to do the same?’ and he was reluctant to do it.”
Cancel culture – I’m not worried in the slightest
Souness commented on a recent controversy in which he was briefly cancelled on social media after using the term ‘man’s game’ during punditry alongside former England Lioness Karen Carney.
“I’m not worried in the slightest about being cancelled. First of all, both teams had been really good, the referees have changed somewhat since then in terms of letting the game flow. And those two games the referee let some challenges go on, and it was men challenging men, and I was talking about the two games of football. I had nothing to apologise for.
“I’m not going to be too concerned if someone takes exception and cancels me because I’ve used a term that I’ve used for the last 50 years of my adult life, in a football sense.
“Let me tell you what I am, I am privileged, I started at 15 and finished my career at the age of 33-34, I played my last game at 35. I played with great players at Liverpool at 32-33, when they finished that was it for them. I rolled into management, and then punditry, so it means from the age of 15-70 I’ve been employed by ‘football’ type people, I’m not going to change now am I.”