Mark Pougatch hit back at BBC resignation claim: ‘Not my choice!’

FA Cup Final – Match In Pictures

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Pougatch will present tonight’s ITV live coverage of the FA Cup third round match between Swindon Town and Manchester City from 7:30pm. Swindon sit 5th in League Two, having won their previous game against high-flying Northampton Town in a 5-2 thriller. Yet the Football League outfit will face a huge jump in class when they take on Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City side.

Swindon beat Crewe Alexandra and Walsall to reach this stage of the competition, but only a massive cup upset will see Ben Garner’s side make the fourth round. 

Man City, who have won the FA Cup six times, head to The County Ground having not lost in any competition since their 2-1 Champions League away defeat to RB Leipzig on December 7. 

Pougatch, who presented coverage of England’s run to the European Championship final last year, will be fronting ITV’s coverage for the evening.

The veteran broadcaster has had a distinguished career hosting England matches for the broadcaster, as well as it’s Six Nations and Rugby World Cup coverage.

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Pougatch was also a beloved voice on BBC Radio 5 Live, since the channel’s inception in 1994.

However, in January 2020 it was announced that he would be among a host of BBC reporters and presenters to leave the corporation.

At the time, a BBC Spokesperson had said it had been the presenter’s decision to “move on” due to his other commitments. 

The spokesperson said: “Mark is a brilliant broadcaster who has been an integral part of 5 Live for years.

“Recently he has been presenting fewer programmes because his other commitments have grown and he has now decided to move on. 

“We wish him well.”

However, Pougatch revealed that the BBC had decided to go “in a different direction” and it had not been his choice to leave the broadcaster.

Speaking to Martyn Ziegler of the Times, Pougatch said: “The BBC have decided they want to go in a different direction and that’s their prerogative.

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“They decided it, not me ‒ I don’t know why they put that statement out saying I have decided to move on.

“But I am not going to fall out with Radio 5 ‒ I have many happy memories and have had a phenomenal time.”

In response a BBC spokesperson said: “We have nothing to add.”

The broadcaster then took to Twitter to reiterate he had not chosen to leave the BBC.

Pougatch tweeted to his 152,500 followers: “Thank you very much for all the kind messages, from listeners, friends and colleagues.

“I’m very touched and appreciative people took the time. 

“Just so we’re clear this was not my decision but on we go. Lots of Love to BBC 5 Live. Now three dogs need a walk, not in loafers.”

After the news broke Pougatch received an outpouring of support from his followers and broadcasting contemporaries.

5 Live and Match of the Day 2 presenter Mark Chapman praised Pougatch as a “sensational broadcaster with the highest of standards.”

Meanwhile, Sky Sports’ Jeff Stelling appeared angry at the BBC’s decision. 

The Soccer Saturday host said: “Sad that his total professionalism will be replaced by someone who is considered to be more in touch with the youth of today, even if they know sod all about football or interviewing. 

“He can’t say it so I will.”

Watch ITV coverage of Swindon Town against Manchester City from 7:30pm.

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