Two of the UK’s leading presenters have engaged in a public spat over the fading fortunes of one of the country’s most established sports shows.

The BBC’s Football Focus – a studio show inviting football pundits to analyse the day’s games following the final whistle on Saturday afternoons – has been running for 49 years, but was revealed this week to have lost more than a third of its viewing audience in the space of four years.

That dip coincided with the departure of presenter Dan Walker, who left the show in 2021 after 11 years as host, whereupon he was replaced by former women’s England team player Alex Scott.

He wrote on social media platform X on Saturday:

“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.”

Scott responded to the message with a GIF, which said simply “Interesting.”

Walker replied: “I’m not saying you haven’t Alex. It’s a saturated market and it’s hard work every week. I hope you have a good show today.”

Scott subsequently added: “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.”

The Daily Mail reports that weekly average viewing figures for August fell from 849,000 in 2019 to just 564,000 in 2023.

While there is understood to be no immediate threat to the show’s existence, commentators have raised concern about the future of a show in a landscape where football fans can quickly catch up with all the results and analysis via a realm of platforms, club websites and other personalised viewing choices.

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