Mark Lawrenson has again hit out at the BBC, claiming former presenter Dan Walker only found out he had lost his role on Football Focus through rumours circulating about his future.
Lawrenson, who retired at the end of last season after 30 years as a pundit and co-commentator with the corporation, previously claimed his own departure was due to him being ’65, white and male’.
Walker replaced Manish Bhasin as Football Focus’s main presenter in 2009, but left the position in 2021 after 12 years, with Alex Scott taking over.
Mark Lawrenson has claimed former Football Focus presenter Dan Walker found out about his departure from the show through rumours circulating about his future
And Lawrenson was critical of Walker no longer being on the show and the way his departure was handled.
‘I just don’t get it. I think the premise should be, whatever age you are, colour or whatever, if you can do what you are asked to do, and are very good at the job, then you should still be in the job,’ he told GB News.
‘It is just very very strange. I mean, Dan Walker, I am sure you know Dan, he used to present Football Focus. He found out from basically rumours that he had lost his job at the end of the season.
‘So it is just a strange way that the BBC operate I am afraid. And they seem to be very frightened to give you bad news. It is a very strange thing.’
Lawrenson hit out at the BBC for a second time after leaving the corporation earlier this year
Upon announcing his departure back in April 2021, Walker had hinted the decision had not been his to leave.
‘Hello, I have some news. This is going to 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 single second of it,’ he said in a Twitter video.
‘I’m really proud about the job we’ve done, the changes that we’ve made to the show, the issues that we’ve looked at, and at a time when the football landscape is changing immeasurably.
‘But, having said all that, after 12 years it’s time for someone else to take the reins. I’m really going to miss the magic of the programme, the opportunities it has given me, the great friends, many friends I’ve made along the way, and the thousands and thousands of conversations I’ve had with people who thankfully love the show just as much as I do.
Walker spent 12 years as presenter of the show from 2009-2021 until his departure last year
‘And I’m also really looking forward to letting you know about one or two other exciting opportunities further down the road. I really hope you enjoy the rest of the season and I’ll see you soon.’
Walker’s statement drew criticism at the time from Piers Morgan, who accused the former BBC man, who now works for Channel 5, of ‘lying’ by telling people it had been his decision to leave the corporation.
Lawrenson has previously hit out at the BBC when discussing his aforementioned departure after three decades working for them.
Earlier this month, Lawrenson 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.’
‘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.’
‘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.”
Lawrenson also revealed he should have thought about departing the show when host Walker left.
Walker was replaced as presenter on Football Focus ex-England and Arsenal star Alex Scott
While initially vexed with Walker’s replacement, ex-England and Arsenal player Alex Scott, he came around to supporting her.
‘Alex was just thrown in, so from the outset we were trying to make the programme as easy as possible for her,’ he said.
‘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. Some people just don’t want her to be any good, but she has gotten better and better.’
He also fought back at criticism for using brand names like Greggs while on the BBC, and when as a radio co-commentator in the wake of Princess Diana’s death in 1997, he was told to avoid any reference to free-kick ‘walls’, in case somebody would have been offended by the language used.
Lawrenson claimed he became ‘anti-woke’, and rebelled against the BBC’s very safe culture, often driven by much younger co-workers.
Lawrenson revealed: ‘In all my time at the BBC, nobody ever said you can’t say this or that, but the woke thing drives me bonkers.
Lawrenson also revealed he became ‘anti-woke’ in response to the BBC’s aim not to anger people
‘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.’
The BBC and Sky Sports have both had large changes in their on-screen personalities in recent years. Lawrenson’s friend and former Liverpool teammate Phil Thompson was axed from the latter’s Soccer Saturday programme.
Lawrenson said: ‘I spoke to Tommo and it caught him completely by surprise. Is the show 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.’
Sportsmail has contacted the BBC for comment.