TRANMERE legend Pat Nevin has defended his decision to appear on BBC 5 Live in the wake of the Gary Lineker crisis that is threatening to engulf the corporation.

Radio 5 Live’s coverage was radically altered throughout the day on Saturday and there was a change to its Sunday schedules too, with its usual ‘Premier League Sunday’ show from midday to 2pm replaced by episodes of Sport’s Strangest Crimes.

The afternoon’s Premier League commentaries from 2pm went ahead and, prior to coverage of Fulham against Arsenal, commentator Alistair Bruce-Ball acknowledged the “difficult time” BBC Sport was undergoing.

“I want to reiterate what we said ahead of our football coverage yesterday,” he said.

“I know you’ll all appreciate this is a difficult time for BBC Sport and for all those who work in the department and we hope it all gets resolved as soon as possible.

“It’s been a very difficult decision to make personally, I can assure you it’s not been taken lightly, but I’m a BBC staff member, I’m a radio commentator for this station and just like yesterday we are here to provide our football service to you, our audience.”

Those comments were echoed by the BBC’s football correspondent John Murray, who commentated on the clash between Newcastle and Wolves alongside Nevin, who pleayed for Tranmere between 1992-1997, making 193 appearances. 

The former Everton and Scotland winger said he had only agreed to work as scheduled if he could have his say publicly on the situation.

“I’m a pundit but I’m also a journalist, an author, I’m my own person, and freedom of speech means you get to speak,” he said.

“There’s a dichotomy between free speech for us and due impartiality for the BBC, we know that, it’s where you draw the line. That line has been far too blurred for the staff and the public. Contracts must be clearer. It’s unfair on everyone from Gary Lineker to every match reporter.

“There must be debate and there must be consultation, not just edicts from on high. I happen to stand roughly on the same sort of hill as Gary Lineker but we have to understand, if we have stringent opinions, then other alternative and indeed opposite opinions would have to be allowed.

“That is not easy for an impartial organisation like the BBC to cope with. The future and direction of this possibly-under-threat institution could depend on this.”

The BBC’s decision on Friday to stand Lineker down from presenting Match of the Day, after he compared language used to launch a new Government asylum seeker policy with 1930s Germany in a tweet, has prompted a growing number of its sports presenters to boycott their shows.

Lineker told reporters that he “can’t say anything” as they questioned him on the future of his presenting career when he left his home in Barnes, south-west London, to walk his dog on Sunday morning.