- Mail Sport revealed this week the show has lost over one-third of its viewers
- Alex Scott took over from Dan Walker as the main host back in 2021
- Mail Sport’s new WhatsApp Channel: Get the breaking news and exclusives here
Football Focus presenter Alex Scott has hit back at her predecessor Dan Walker, who said that it’s ‘hard’ to see the iconic BBC show struggling amid a dramatic slump in audience figures that could see it axed.
Walker presented the BBC One show for 11 years between 2009 and 2021, before Alex Scott took over from him.
As revealed by Mail Sport this week, the 49-year-old programme has lost more than one third of its early-season viewers in the space of four years.
Taking to X, Walker wrote: ‘It’s hard to see Football Focus struggling. I loved it growing up and it was an honour to present it and I still miss it. We poured everything into that show every week and worked hard to keep it relevant. I hope it stays part of the TV landscape.’
And this led to Scott to respond in GIF format, simply saying: ‘Interesting.’
Former Football Focus presenter Dan Walker has expressed his sadness at the iconic BBC show’s slump in viewing figures over recent years
Alex Scott presents Saturday’s edition of Football Focus amid concerns it may be axed
Walker said on X that he feels ‘sad’ about the show’s decline and hopes it remains on the air
Walker was classy in his reply to Scott as he wished her well for the show on Saturday.
‘I’m not saying you haven’t Alex,’ he wrote. ‘It’s a saturated market and it’s hard work every week. I hope you have a good show today.’
However, Scott didn’t stop there as she put out another message to the critics of the show, posting the show’s Sports Journalist Association award from 2022.
She wrote: ‘We have big interviews with Ange Postecoglou and Arsenal captain Martin Odegarard coming up on the ‘Award’ winning Football Focus tomorrow.
‘Make that a headline.’
While Football Focus isn’t thought to be under immediate threat of disappearing from Saturday schedules, reversing that decline will be a priority for the corporation’s new director of sport once Barbara Slater retires next spring.
Scott responded to Walker’s initial tweet, replying with a GIF that said ‘interesting’
The former Gunner then continued to put out her own tweet about the criticism
The show has continued to decline since Alex Scott took over from Walker in 2021
Walker, who followed in the footsteps of presenters Sam Leitch, Bob Wilson, Steve Rider, Gary Lineker, Ray Stubbs and Manish Bhasin in 2009, expressed his regret over the sad situation.
The weekly average viewing figures for August fell from 849,000 in 2019 to just 564,000 last month.
The most dramatic fall coincides with Scott replacing Walker as the main presenter in 2021.
In Walker’s last season before he was moved on the average weekly August audience was 827,000, before dropping to 809,000 in 2021, 599,000 12 months later and 564,000 this year.
Scott is not being blamed by her bosses, though, and remains highly regarded at the BBC, who are set to give the former England defender a prominent presenting role at next summer’s Olympics.
Des Lynam (left) listens in while Bob Wilson and Jimmy Hill lead Football Focus back in 1979
Mark Lawrenson, who appeared on the programme for 25 years before being let go last year, told Mail Sport that he believes the show has ‘served it’s time’.
He said: ‘It has served its time. It’s a football magazine show, but there are so many other options for viewers these days and so much competition.
‘It doesn’t surprise me. Football Focus is coming up to 50 years, which is an unbelievable run, although there was no competition 50 years ago.’
BBC sources insisted the decline in viewing figures mirrored those experienced by all linear channels in recent years.
A spokesperson told Mail Sport: ‘Football Focus continues to herald the start of a whole weekend of sporting coverage across BBC Sport. Week-on-week it is the most watched programme during that time slot and iPlayer viewing figures are also strong, so we know its popularity is enduring for fans.’
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