‘Anti-woke’ Mark Lawrenson slams BBC as he claims he was sacked as football pundit for being ’65 and a white male’


MARK LAWRENSON believes he was axed by the BBC because he is “65 and a white male”.

The former Liverpool defender spent 30 years as a pundit with the broadcaster.

Mark Lawrenson hit out at the BBC over his exit in March after 30 years as a pundit

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Mark Lawrenson hit out at the BBC over his exit in March after 30 years as a punditCredit: PA

That included a quarter of a century on Football Focus and covering six World Cups.

But he was let go in March as the BBC took the decision to move on without him.

Lawro 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.’

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“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.’

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“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.’ ”

Asked what he thinks the true reason behind the exit is, Lawrenson added: “Well, I’m 65 and a white male, so you know…”

Lawrenson joined the likes of Mark Pougatch, Cornelius Lysaght and Alan Green in leaving the BBC while at Sky Sports Matt Le Tissier, Charlie Nicholas and pal Phil Thompson were also shipped out from Soccer Saturday duties as the broadcasters embraced more diverse punditry teams.

However, Lawrenson hit out at the Beeb’s approach and described himself as “anti-woke”.

He said: “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.

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“I spoke to Tommo and it caught him completely by surprise. Is the show [Soccer Saturday] 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 also raged at criticism for using brand names such as Greggs and avoiding the term “walls” when talking about free-kicks following Princess Diana’s death in 1997.

The five-time First Division winner and European Cup champion with the Reds initially struggled to warm to new host Alex Scott after she replaced Dan Walker, who had been in the chair for 12 years.

But Lawrenson’s view has changed as he threw his support behind the former Arsenal and England defender, who this week opened up on her experiences suffering racism, sexism and abuse.

The 39-cap Ireland international said: “Alex was just thrown in, so from the outset we were trying to make the programme as easy as possible for her.

“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.

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“Some people just don’t want her to be any good, but she has gotten better and better.”

Lawrenson has been promised a farewell lunch by the BBC and can invite 20 guests – something he is looking forward to as overall he reflects fondly on his three decades with the broadcaster.

Lawrenson won the European Cup with Liverpool in 1984

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Lawrenson won the European Cup with Liverpool in 1984Credit: PA:Empics Sport
He enjoyed a stellar spell in punditry at the BBC alongside Alan Hansen and Gary Lineker

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He enjoyed a stellar spell in punditry at the BBC alongside Alan Hansen and Gary LinekerCredit: BBC





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