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'Match of the Day' pundit Lee Dixon to leave BBC Sport

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Lee Dixon

© BBC

Former Arsenal player Lee Dixon is to leave the BBC's football coverage team, amid speculation that he is set to join rival broadcasters ITV or BT.

The 48-year-old revealed via Twitter that his eight-year association with the corporation is coming to an end.

"Sad to be leaving BBC," he tweeted earlier in the week. "Nothing lasts forever. New challenges ahead. Loved my time there. Wonderful people... Just time to move on."

The former England defender has been a prominent fixture on the BBC's Match of the Day programme, alongside fellow pundits Alan Hansen, Alan Shearer and Mark Lawrenson.

Hansen, Shearer and Lawrenson have all come in for criticism from viewers, but Dixon has not taken similar flack for his insight into Premier League and international football.

Eurosport reports that viewers have reacted with disappointment to the news.

"Beeb's lost its best-by-far football pundit in Lee Dixon," tweeted John Wilson. "A proper analyst left on sub's bench too often. Shame."

Annie Evans added: "Thought Lee Dixon was one of the best parts of BBC's football coverage. Seems odd they've let him go."

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Speculation is that Dixon is being lined up to join ITV's football coverage as a replacement for Gareth Southgate, who is leaving to become technical director of the Football Association.

Whilst Dixon would be losing the opportunity to comment on Premier League action because ITV does not hold the rights, he could be swayed by Champions League and his friendship with lead presenter Adrian Chiles.

However, another possible destination for the pundit could be BT, after the telecoms giant agreed a multi-milllion pound deal to show 38 Premier League games live each season, starting in August 2013.

Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker has already been rumoured as a target for BT, as the firm looks to put together a presenting team for its forthcoming sports channel.

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