Match of the Day pundit Alan Hansen is quitting the show after 22 years.
Hansen, currently the show’s “lead’ pundit, has revealed that he will not pursue a new contract when his deal expires next July.
He broke the news in the Telegraph newspaper where he writes a column, claiming that he has been offered various posts during his time on the show and has rejected approaches from Sky and ITV – and even a bid from Manchester City 18 years ago to make him their manager.
“I’m retiring from Match of the Day at the end of the season,” Hansen told the paper. “I will have been there for 22 years and will be 59, so it’s the right time for me.
“The guys at the BBC know me and I said, ‘Look, this is categorical. I’m leaving and nothing will make me change my mind’. I am contracted to do the World Cup and I will do that as it will be a good way to go out, but I have had a great run.”
Hansen has provoked the ire of some fans of the show for being part of what was called an “old boys network” comprising himself and former players Gary Lineker and Hansen’s ex-Liverpool teammate Mark Lawrenson.
Hansen told the paper that the criticism has been unfounded.
“The viewing figures over the last five years have been absolutely sensational but nobody seems to want to know about that,” he said.
“In terms of audience appreciation figures, they are through the roof as well.
“There has definitely been a sea-change, though, because five or six years ago, it was dead. We were still doing the job, but the viewing figures were plummeting.”
In his piece he reveals the approaches he has had over the years to poach him from the show.
“Sky came in for me when Andy Gray nearly left to take the Everton job, almost 20 years ago,” Hansen said.
“I was under contract at the BBC, so turned it down, but there were four occasions after that when I had big offers from ITV.
“They came to me in 2006, just before I signed the biggest contract of my life at the BBC, and offered me fortunes. I was absolutely amazed by what they offered me, but I just felt I had been looked after by the BBC.
“I also turned down Manchester City in 1995 after Brian Horton was sacked, simply because I never wanted to be a manager.
“Francis Lee, who was chairman at the time, phoned me up and said he thought I would have fancied it, but while I told him I was flattered, I just said I wasn’t interested in managing a football club.”
The BBC confirmed Hansen was quitting but said that this did not affect anyone else’s contract.
A source said: “This is Alan’s story and is not connected to other presenters all of whom have their own contracts.”
A BBC spokeswomen said: “Alan has had a terrific career as an outstanding football pundit for BBC Sport over the last two decades. We discussed his future at the end of last season, where he spoke of his intention to step away from regular broadcasting when his contract expires after the World Cup. Alan will remain an important part of the Match of the Day team this season along with Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer and a range of new pundits.”