Leicester City's decision to sack manager Claudio Ranieri nine months after he won the Premier League title is "unforgivable", says Gary Lineker.
Ranieri took the Foxes to the title in 2015-16 despite them being rated 5,000-1 shots at the start of that campaign.
Leicester are 17th this season and lost to League One Millwall in the FA Cup.
"After all that Claudio Ranieri has done for Leicester City, to sack him now is inexplicable, unforgivable and gut-wrenchingly sad," said Lineker.
The Match of the Day presenter, who played for his home-town club for seven seasons, added that Ranieri's sacking had shown that the "game's gone".
Former Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp, speaking on BT Sport, said: "I wasn't that surprised, but am disappointed. He has done an amazing job.
"When teams are down there now, with what's at stake, owners do make those changes and panic. I'm sad to see it. He can walk away and hold his head high, incredible."
Ex-England striker and Match of the Day pundit Ian Wright said the Leicester players will feel they are responsible for Ranieri's dismissal.
"Unfortunate news," tweeted Wright. "I wonder how I'd feel if I was a Leicester player right now? Could I have done more? At least Claudio left them as champions."
Former Wales striker and Match of the Day pundit John Hartson said: "Very hasty and very harsh. The owner/board are obviously having a major panic and feel a change in a relegation battle is needed.
"Will the sacking of Claudio Ranieri seem so mad if Leicester appoint a manager who keeps them in the Premier League?"
Former England striker Michael Owen called the sacking a "total and utter disgrace". He added: "I've lost a lot of love for the beautiful game today. The players and fans of Leicester have been massively let down."
|Leicester City: Premier League 2015-16 v 2016-17|
|Pts per game||Shots per game||Clean sheets||Defeats|
|2015-16||2.1 (81 from 38)||13.8 (7th in league)||15||3 (from 38)|
|2016-17||0.8 (21 from 25)||10.8 (14th)||5||14 (from 25)|
What did Leicester say?
On 7 February, Leicester issued a statement saying Ranieri had their "unwavering support", before sacking the 65-year-old Italian 16 days later.
It came the day after the Foxes won praise for their performance despite losing 2-1 in their Champions League last-32 first leg tie away at Seville.
Foxes vice chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha said: "This has been the most difficult decision we have had to make in nearly seven years since King Power took ownership of Leicester City.
"But we are duty-bound to put the club's long-term interests above all sense of personal sentiment, no matter how strong that might be.
"Claudio has brought outstanding qualities to his office. His skilful management, powers of motivation and measured approach have been reflective of the rich experience we always knew he would bring to Leicester City."
Srivaddhanaprabha added: "His warmth, charm and charisma have helped transform perceptions of the club and develop its profile on a global scale. We will forever be grateful to him for what he has helped us to achieve.
"It was never our expectation that the extraordinary feats of last season should be replicated this season. Indeed, survival in the Premier League was our first and only target at the start of the campaign.
"But we are now faced with a fight to reach that objective and feel a change is necessary to maximise the opportunity presented by the final 13 games."I have support of everyone at Leicester - Ranieri
'Leicester have showed a cruelty' - analysis
Pat Murphy, BBC Radio 5 live:
I remember the Thai owners at the Everton game when Leicester got the trophy, the players couldn't get the trophy out of their hands. They loved dining at the top table and that's what they are worried about.
Has Ranieri lost the dressing room? Probably. They are clearly in trouble, sinking like a stone. But my word, they have showed a cruelty in this decision.
Ranieri deserved everything, it sums up modern football. The owners have their eye on staying up.
The chairman was at the Swansea game shaking his head a couple of weeks ago, making it quite clear how he felt. It was only a fortnight ago they promised unwavering support.
Surely in terms of decency, respect and integrity, Ranieri should have been allowed to get them out of this mess.