Nadine Dorries attacks BBC’s ‘wrong decision’ to axe classified football results

·3-min read
Nadine Dorries said the BBC's decision 'will be a bitter pill for fans to swallow' - Kirsty O'Connor/PA wire
Nadine Dorries said the BBC's decision 'will be a bitter pill for fans to swallow' - Kirsty O'Connor/PA wire

Nadine Dorries has criticised the BBC's decision to axe its classified football results, saying the corporation has handed supporters a "bitter pill" by ending the 70-year radio tradition.

The Saturday teatime slot was pulled from the airwaves without warning, sparking an immediate outcry from listeners driving home from matches.

BBC staffers are understood to have expressed dismay internally and the Culture Secretary  said she believed Radio 5 Live had made a mistake.

"Sports Report has kept listeners informed on a Saturday evening for several decades, helping football supporters across the nation to find out how their teams and rivals have fared," she said.

"While it is essential for the BBC to keep pace with technological change, losing such an institution in favour of just 'build-up' reporting strikes as the wrong decision and will be a bitter pill for fans to swallow."

The dulcet tones of James Alexander Gordon and, more recently, Charlotte Green were an instantly recognisable fixture on Radio 5 Live.

James Alexander Gordon read the football scores on the BBC for many years - Paul Grover for The Telegraph
James Alexander Gordon read the football scores on the BBC for many years - Paul Grover for The Telegraph

Their 5pm run-through of matches through the footballing pyramid was on Sports Report, one of the longest-running programmes on radio.

However, BBC bosses said there is no longer room in its schedules, due to 5.30pm coverage for the Premier League evening kick-offs.

Malcolm Clarke, chairman of the Football Supporters’ Association, and Mark Lawrenson, the former BBC pundit, have already called for a rethink over the "own goal".

"This feels like yet another of football’s great traditions has gone and it is a deeply regrettable decision from the BBC," said Mr Clarke. "I hope they will think again."

Classified results have been read out after Sport's Reports familiar theme music of Out of the Blue, written by Hubert Bath, since 1948.

First broadcast on the BBC Light Programme, the show was on Radio 2 for many years, before switching to Radio 5 in 1990 and then 5 Live Sport in 1994.

John Webster was the show's first result reader prior to Gordon, who conducted duties from 1974 to 2013 - before he was replaced by Green, the former BBC Radio 4 newsreader.

Hordes of fans returning to their cars after games to tune in to 5 Live on Saturday were left dismayed. Amid a growing backlash, Mr Clarke said it was a "disappointing decision and a sad day for football".

He added in a statement: "The classified football results on the radio have been one of the great traditions of British football. Listening to the classified results has always been one of those beloved, shared routines for match-going fans."

Lawrenson, the former Liverpool defender who retired as a regular BBC pundit at the end of last season, was also among those to express dismay.

In 2020, the channel presided over a strategic cull which led Cornelius Lysaght - its voice of racing - to leave, along with fellow staffer and host Jonathan Overend. Mark Pougatch, another respected anchor, was also told there was no regular work.

A BBC statement said: "With the addition of the 5.30pm live Premier League match to our coverage, Sports Report has been condensed into a shorter programme.

“We will still offer a comprehensive goal service throughout the day on air and on the BBC Sport website, as well as Final Score on BBC One. We would like to thank everyone who has read the classified football results on 5 Live over the years."