Gary Lineka To Return To Television Screens But No Commitment To BBC Football Show

Gary Lineka To Return To Television Screens But No Commitment To BBC Football Show

By Tim Parsons-

Gary Lineker will return to TV screens today but is yet to commit to a new BBC football show.

It will mark the 62-year-old broadcaster’s first appearance on the BBC since he was told to step back from hosting Match Of The Day, following his Nazi tweet storm.

Lineker came under fire from MPs as a weekend of chaos saw schedules changed last-minute and a different format for Match Of The Day.

The BBC’s highest-paid presenter had been suspended from his duties and faced backlash following a tweet criticising Suella Braverman’s migrant boats plan.

However,  Lineker has yet to commit to presenting the BBC’s Champions League coverage when their highlights programme begins next year.

The BBC have the rights to Champions League highlights for the first time from 2024, with Lineker’s BBC contract running until 2025.

The former Barcelona striker is a familiar face to BT having hosted their Champions League coverage for six years until 2021.

The mayhem erupted after Lineker criticised Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s small boats plan which will see migrants swiftly detained and removed to either their country of origin or a safe third state within 28 days.

He was accused by the BBC of breaking their strict impartiality rules that state staff must “avoid taking sides on political controversies” and “take care when addressing public policy matters”.

Last Friday, the broadcaster revealed he had been suspended and would not host Saturday’s Match of the Day – sparking a mutiny among his co-stars.

Ian Wright, Alan Shearer, Jermaine Jenas, Alex Scott, Mark Chapman and Micah Richards refused to fill in with the football analysis show plunged into crisis.

Saturday’s night episode later aired with a stripped-back, 20 minute version that did not even feature the iconic theme tune.

Lineker faced a wave of fury over the crisis after he failed to apologise himself for his tweet.

Ms Braverman later said his comments were “offensive”.

She added: “To kind of throw out those kind of flippant analogies diminishes the unspeakable tragedy that millions of people went through…

“And I don’t think anything that is happening in the UK today can come close to what happened in the Holocaust.”

BBC director-general Tim Davie, who made the call to suspend Lineker reversed his decision within days of making it.

Mr Davie said in a statement the corporation has commissioned an independent review of its social media guidelines, particularly for freelancers.

He also apologised for the impartiality row and said a review of the BBC’s social media guidelines would take place.

Mr Davie described the BBC’s commitment to freedom of expression and impartiality as a “difficult balancing act”.

He added: “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.”

However, Davie told the BBC last weekend he would “absolutely not” quit amid a fallout that has bought the corporation to its knees.

He described the unfolding disaster as a “difficult day” and apologised for the disruption to BBC sports programming.

Presenter Mark Chapman will instead bring the Match of the Day highlights at 10:30pm on Saturday, doing so alongside former Wales player Ashley Williams.

Reinstating Lineker on Monday, the BBC’s director-general Tim Davie apologised for the disruption caused by the row and said he recognised “the potential confusion caused by the grey areas of the BBC’s social media guidance”.

BBC guidance states that its high-profile stars are expected “to avoid taking sides on party-political issues”.

The row was sparked after he described a Home Office video of Suella Braverman introducing the government’s new bill – which would ban people who arrive in Britain in small boats from ever claiming asylum in the UK – as “beyond awful”.

“There is no huge influx,” Lineker wrote on Twitter. “We take far fewer refugees than other major European countries. This is just an immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s, and I’m out of order?”



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