The BBC was refused permission to screen Lincoln City’s historic FA Cup upset of Brighton & Hove Albion instead of Manchester United’s stroll against Wigan Athletic, according to Gary Lineker.
The corporation came under fire on Sunday for failing to show Lincoln or Sutton United’s triumphs over Championship opposition which ensured two non-league sides’ places in the fifth round for the first time.
Football Focus presenter Dan Walker responded by revealing the BBC “asked to do Lincoln live”.
Match of the Day host Lineker later added: “After Lincoln won their replay we asked the FA to change to Lincoln Brighton game. They refused.”
That is correct. After Lincoln won their replay we asked FA to change to Lincoln Brighton game. They refused. https://t.co/pSQbqkAdZA— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) January 29, 2017
That replay was National League leaders Lincoln’s last-gasp third-round victory over Ipswich Town almost two weeks ago on on January 17.
The BBC confirmed four days earlier it would show any fourth-round tie between Bolton Wanderers and Manchester City if the former won their replay with Crystal Palace the same evening and would screen United-Wigan instead if they lost.
Palace’s victory on the same night as Lincoln’s triumph over Ispwich secured United’s 56th consecutive live televised FA Cup match.
It was unclear on Monday why the BBC was unable – or unwilling – to retain an option on Lincoln-Brighton as well.
Since reclaiming the rights to the FA Cup in 2013, the corporation has been heavily criticised for a perceived prioritisation of the ties of the big Premier League teams over those of lower-league or non-league sides.
The BBC was condemned by the managers of Sutton and AFC Wimbledon earlier this month for overlooking their third-round clash.
Paul Doswell, who is the manager as well as the main sponsor of Sutton, said: “The BBC are a taxpayer-funded organisation, and they should not be after viewing figures. Where is the romance?”
AFC Wimbledon counterpart Neal Ardley added: “When the BBC took back the FA Cup, the whole remit of what they did was to put the romance back"