Mark Lawrenson has another hit on the BBC, claiming that former presenter Dan Walker only found out he lost his role at Football Focus due to rumors of his future.
Lawrenson, who retired at the end of last season after 30 years as an pundit and co-commentator at the company, previously claimed his own departure was due to being “65, white and male.”
Walker replaced Manish Bhasin as the main presenter of Football Focus in 2009, but left the role in 2021 after 12 years, with Alex Scott taking over.
Mark Lawrenson has claimed that former Football Focus presenter Dan Walker found out he was leaving the show over rumors of his future
And Lawrenson criticized the fact that Walker was no longer on the show and the way his departure was handled.
‘I just don’t get it. I think the starting point should be regardless of your age, color or whatever, if you can do what you are asked to do and are very good at the job then you should still be working,” he told GB News .
‘It’s just very strange. I mean, Dan Walker, I’m sure you know Dan, he presented Football Focus. He was rumored to have lost his job at the end of the season.
“So it’s just a strange way the BBC operates, I’m afraid. And they seem very afraid to bring you bad news. It’s something very strange.’
Lawrenson joined the BBC for the second time after leaving the company earlier this year
When he announced his departure in April 2021, Walker had hinted that it was not his decision to leave.
‘Hello, I have news. This will be my last season presenting Football Focus. It’s been a real pleasure, an amazing 12 years, and I can honestly say I’ve loved every second of it,” he said in a Twitter video.
“I’m really proud of the work we’ve done, the changes we’ve made to the show, the issues we’ve looked at and at a time when the football landscape is changing immeasurably.
“But that said, after 12 years, it’s time for someone else to take the reins. I’m really going to miss the magic of the program, the opportunities it has given me, the wonderful friends, the many friends I made along the way and the thousands upon thousands of conversations I’ve had with people who are grateful for the show as much as I.
Walker spent 12 years as the show’s host from 2009-2021 until his departure last year
“And I’m also really looking forward to keeping you posted on one or two other interesting opportunities down the road. I really hope you enjoy the rest of the season and see you soon.”
Lawrenson previously had a hit with the BBC when he spoke of his aforementioned departure after working for them for three decades.
Earlier this month, Lawrenson told The Sunday Times: ‘The Beeb are probably the worst at giving bad news. It was just: “We’re going out with Focus next season. We don’t think it’s really for you.”
“I haven’t watched the show since then to see if they’re out and about. They forget that you are an ex-football player and could be substituted, dropped or transferred. Someone might say to me, “I’m sorry, it’s not good news.” And I’d say, “Okay, just tell me what it is.”
Walker was replaced as presenter on Football Focus ex-England and Arsenal star Alex Scott
“I wish they had said to me at the beginning of my contract last year, ‘You’ve had a great run, thank you very much and you won’t be working next season.’
Lawrenson also revealed that he should have thought about leaving the show when host Walker left.
Although he was initially annoyed by Walker’s replacement ex-England and Arsenal player Alex Scott, he came by to support her.
“Alex was just there, so from the start we tried to make the program as easy as possible for her,” he said.
“It was a little frustrating because she would ask you a question and then move on to the next person and I’d like to say something that I had just thought of but I just had to shut up because she was just learning.
“She’s done well for her in all honesty and she’s a sweet kid. It’s a tough gig because Dan was so good. Some people just don’t want her to be good, but she’s gotten better and better.”
He also fought back against criticism for using brand names like Greggs while on the BBC, and when as a co-commentator on radio in the wake of Princess Diana’s death in 1997, he was told to avoid any reference to ‘walls’ with free kicks, in case someone would be offended by the language used.
Lawrenson claimed he became ‘anti-wake’ and rebelled against the BBC’s very safe culture, often driven by much younger colleagues.
Lawrenson revealed: ‘In all my time at the BBC no one has ever said you can’t say this or that, but the waking thing drives me crazy.
Lawrenson also revealed he became ‘anti-wake’ in response to the BBC’s aim of not angering people
“While you would normally say the first thing that comes to mind, now you think, ‘If I say that, will I get in trouble?’ It was a bit like playing with your legs tied together.
“The BBC is the national broadcaster and I understand that, but they are terrified of upsetting anyone.”
The BBC and Sky Sports have both gone through major changes in their on-screen personalities in recent years. Lawrenson’s friend and former Liverpool team-mate Phil Thompson was dropped from the latter’s football schedule.
Lawrenson said, “I spoke to Tommo and it took him completely by surprise. Is the show better? No. Not so good? Yes. It was just a strange, strange thing to do. Now they go around and do theaters and they’re packed.’