Gary Lineker reinstated as BBC presenter as corporation apologises
atch Of The Day host Gary Lineker will continue as a BBC presenter after the corporation apologised for a “difficult period for staff, contributors, presenters, and most importantly, our audiences”.
A host of sports presenters and pundits pulled out of BBC shows at the weekend after the former England striker was told to step back from hosting the show in a row over impartiality.
The 62-year-old was taken off air for a tweet comparing the language used to launch a new Government asylum seeker policy with 1930s Germany.
BBC Director-General Tim Davie confirmed Lineker will continue as the host of Match Of The Day, saying: “Everyone recognises this has been a difficult period for staff, contributors, presenters and, most importantly, our audiences. I apologise for this.
“The potential confusion caused by the grey areas of the BBC’s social media guidance that was introduced in 2020 is recognised. I want to get matters resolved and our sport content back on air.”
In a statement issued on Twitter, Lineker described the past few days as “surreal”, and thanked his fellow BBC Sport colleagues for their “remarkable show of solidarity”.
He also appeared to address the issue of migration again, saying his difficult weekend “doesn’t compare to having to flee your home from persecution or war to seek refuge in a land far away”.
“We remain a country of predominantly tolerant, welcoming and generous people. Thank you,” he said.
Mr Davie said Lineker “will abide by the editorial guidelines” until a review of the BBC’s social media policy is complete.
In his statement, he said: “We are announcing a review led by an independent expert – reporting to the BBC – on its existing social media guidance, with a particular focus on how it applies to freelancers outside news and current affairs.
“The BBC and myself are aware that Gary is in favour of such a review.
“Shortly, the BBC will announce who will conduct that review. Whilst this work is undertaken, the BBC’s current social media guidance remains in place.
“Gary is a valued part of the BBC and I know how much the BBC means to Gary, and I look forward to him presenting our coverage this coming weekend.”
Football coverage on BBC TV and radio shows was hit across the weekend as fellow pundits, presenters and reporters – including Alan Shearer, Ian Wright and Alex Scott – walked out in “solidarity” with Lineker.
Match Of The Day aired for only 20 minutes on Saturday without accompanying commentary or analysis from presenters, with Sunday’s edition following a similar format and running for a reduced 15 minutes.
Coverage of the Women’s Super League match between Chelsea and Manchester United aired without a pre-match presentation on Sunday, and Radio 5 Live replaced much of its usual live sports coverage over the weekend with pre-recorded content.
Mr Davie described the BBC’s commitment to freedom of expression and to impartiality as a “difficult balancing act”.
He said: “The BBC’s social media guidance is designed to help manage these sometimes difficult challenges and I am aware there is a need to ensure that the guidance is up to this task.
“It should be clear, proportionate, and appropriate.”
In a follow-up tweet, Lineker thanked Mr Davie for his “understanding during a difficult period”.
The presenter said: “He has an almost impossible job keeping everybody happy, particularly in the area of impartiality.
“I am delighted that we’ll continue to fight the good fight, together.”