BBC1 may be poised to axe The Football League Show, after two editions of the programme were dropped over the festive period owing to what presenter Manish Bhasin described as a “budget decision”.
The series reaches the end of its initial three-year run in May. Contract negotiations are said to be ongoing yet the decision to cut the two episodes has led to speculation that it will not be renewed.
The show follows Match of the Day on Saturday nights, providing highlights and analysis of fixtures from football's Championship and Leagues One and Two. According to its usual timetable, the cancelled editions would have aired on Boxing Day and Monday 2 January.
The main series will now not resume until 14 January, following a Carling Cup edition on 10 January.
A BBC spokesperson refused to comment on progress in the negotiations but claimed the decision to drop the two programmes had been based on scheduling rather than budgetary factors, adding that the missing shows would be replaced by an extra edition later in the year.
However, host Manish Bhasin said on Twitter that money was behind the move.
"[It was a] budget decision I'm afraid,” he told followers, “but all the goals will be online on the BBC Football website."
Bhasin later attempted to quash fears that the programme’s fate had already been sealed but did not do much to convince fans it would be returning: "It's on till May and who knows maybe even longer...but..." he tweeted enigmatically.
The BBC’s budget for sports rights is to be slashed by 15 per cent as part of its Delivery Quality First cost-cutting programme. The corporation recently lost the sole rights to show Formula One, and from next season will share them with Sky in a deal that favours the satellite broadcaster.