Why everyone’s talking about Alex Scott and A Question of Sport

Scott is being ‘lined up’ to replace Sue Barker as host of the BBC’s sports quiz show

Ex-Arsenal Ladies and England footballer Alex Scott is a pundit for BBC Sport and Sky Sports
Scott is being ‘lined up’ to replace Sue Barker as host of the BBC’s sports quiz show 
(Image credit: James Boyes/WikiMedia Creative Common)

Alex Scott is once again one of the top trends on Twitter.

The ex-football star turned television pundit seems to be a regular topic of discussion among users of the social media platform.

But as is becoming the norm, her past life as an international footballer and her current career in TV are not the major talking points - it’s issues of race and diversity that see Scott’s name trend online.

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Just weeks after being touted as a potential panellist on Sky Sports’s Soccer Saturday programme, Scott is today also being linked with a new role at the BBC. And it’s “triggered” many trolls to have their say online...

What happened?

According to a report in The Sun today Scott is being lined up by the Beeb to become the new host of A Question of Sport.

The 35-year-old “impressed BBC bosses” in two previous appearances on the sports quiz show and the tabloid says she is now “poised” to replace Sue Barker.

Described as a “major shake-up”, the BBC confirmed that Barker would be leaving after 24 years in the presenter’s chair and team captains Matt Dawson and Phil Tufnell would also depart.

In the article on the BBC website former professional tennis player Barker described the role as her “dream job” but “understands the BBC want to take the show in a new direction”.

However, the Independent reports that Barker says she was “removed” from the show and it would have been “tough for me to walk away”.

Barker’s departure has left A Question of Sport fans “fuming”, says the Daily Mirror, and a petition has been launched demanding the hosts are reinstated.

The Daily Telegraph’s Ed Power does not believe the much-loved show needs a shake-up and the BBC’s overhaul is a radical change which nobody wants.

He wrote: “Sue Barker leaving A Question of Sport isn’t the end of the world. But it is another example of the corporation pushing transformation on viewers when the status quo was perfectly acceptable.

A Question of Sport isn’t broken - it isn’t even slightly tatty at the edges. It is a war horse that, in its current format, clearly has a lot of life left. Why pack it off to the glue factory in the name of change for which absolutely nobody is calling?”

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‘BBC not trying to be woke’

Power says the “shake- up” is commissioning-editor speak for “we’re getting someone younger instead”. Critics of the BBC also accuse the corporation of pushing its “woke” agenda and ticking diversity boxes.

However, a BBC source told the Sun that Scott’s potential appointment has nothing to do with the fact she’s young, black and female - she’s simply considered the best for the job.

“Alex is being lined up as host, as a direct replacement for Sue,” the source said. “Like Sue, she’s a former sportswoman and she also has five years of broadcasting under her belt. She’s a natural on camera and, crucially, lives and breathes all things sport.

“This has nothing to do with gender, nor is it a case of the BBC trying to be woke. While a lot can happen over the next three months, as things stand Alex is genuinely considered the best woman for the job.”

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A question of credentials?

In her footballing career Scott captained Arsenal ladies and won multiple trophies with the Gunners including the FA Women’s Premier League five times, the Women’s FA Cup seven times and the Uefa Women’s Champions League once.

On the international stage she was capped 140 times by England and also represented Team GB at the 2012 London Olympics.

In her TV career Scott has been a regular pundit and presenter for BBC Sport and BT Sport. While in August last year, she landed the presenting role on Sky Sports’s Goals on Sunday alongside Chris Kamara.

Even though she has not yet been confirmed to replace Barker, the news has triggered the online trolls with many racist and sexist comments targeting the pundit.

However, many other Twitter users have come out in support of Scott and cite her background in professional sport and media as the reasons why she should get the job.

Twitter user @LuxMeaMundiAM said: “The racism Alex Scott, an accomplished footballer (both for her club and national team) experiences when getting a job as a pundit for the BBC is astonishing. She’s more than qualified, does a fantastic job and is more knowledgeable than most. Yet people don’t focus on that.”

Writer and broadcaster Carrie Dunn added: “Know what makes me laugh? Alex Scott has a DEGREE IN SPORTS JOURNALISM AND BROADCASTING. She is the MOST qualified to present ANY of these programmes. She could present them ALL and it would STILL be entirely fair and justified.”

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What happens next?

In an interview with 90min Scott revealed she was living the “dream” working in TV after finishing playing football.

“When I was doing my media degree, it was a dream for me to have some sort of a job after football in that area,” she said. “I remember doing Arsenal TV and thinking ‘oh, this would be cool!’

“So to be sitting here working for BBC, working for Sky Sports and now crossing over into entertainment... no I don’t think I would have ever envisioned to be where I am today.

“I think that’s why I’m always so grateful and have this buzz because I’m just so happy that actually I’ve got a job and can still pay my mortgage!”

The BBC is yet to announce replacements for Barker, Dawson and Tufnell on A Question of Sport, but it has been confirmed that the trio’s final series together will be broadcast next year.

The Sun says Scott is “due to meet with execs next month” before castings and contracts are signed in December. A formal announcement is expected to be made in early 2021.

Main image: James Boyes/WikiMedia Creative Commons

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Mike Starling is the digital features editor at The Week, where he writes content and edits the Arts & Life and Sport website sections and the Food & Drink and Travel newsletters. He started his career in 2001 in Gloucestershire as a sports reporter and sub-editor and has held various roles as a writer and editor at news, travel and B2B publications. He has spoken at a number of sports business conferences and also worked as a consultant creating sports travel content for tourism boards. International experience includes spells living and working in Dubai, UAE; Brisbane, Australia; and Beirut, Lebanon.