Gary Lineker Returns To BBC Football After Impartiality Row: 'It's Good To Be Here'

Gary Lineker returns to BBC football
Gary Lineker returns to BBC football

Gary Lineker returns to BBC football

Gary Lineker has returned to live presenting of the BBC’s football coverage after a row about impartiality.

The broadcaster was joined by pundits Alan Shearer and Micah Richards to host coverage of the FA Cup quarter-final between Manchester City and Burnley on Saturday.

Gary was told to step back from hosting Match Of The Day last week over a tweet criticising a new government migrant policy.

It prompted a mass walkout of other stars across BBC Sport, meaning Football Focus was axed and Match Of The Day only aired for 20 minutes with no commentary or punditry.

Returning to air after being reinstated earlier this week, Gary said it was “good to be here”.

Alan Shearer – who said sat out last Saturday’s MOTD out of solidarity to Gary – described last weekend as “really difficult”.

“I just need to clear up and wanted to say how upset we were (to) all the audiences who missed out on last weekend,” he said.

“It was a really difficult situation for everyone concerned – and through no fault of their own, some really great people in TV and in radio were put in an impossible situation and that wasn’t fair.

“So it’s good to get back to some sort of normality and be talking about football again.”

Following on, Gary said: “Absolutely, (I) echo (those) sentiments.”

Before coming on air, Gary posted a photo of himself at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester and told his Twitter followers: “Ah the joys of being allowed to stick to football.”

He also shared a picture of himself, Alan and Micah in the studio, writing: “Teammates.”

Later in the evening, broadcaster Mark Chapman hosted the MOTD highlights show due to Gary fronting the FA Cup quarter-final coverage.

Gary’s return came after a row regarding the presenter’s response on Twitter to a Home Office video – in which home secretary Suella Braverman unveiled the government’s plans to stop migrants crossing the Channel on small boats – saying the language used was “not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the ’30s”.

He faced criticism from members of the Tory party, including the home secretary, while a spokesperson for Rishi Sunak also said: “It’s obviously disappointing to see someone whose salary is funded by hard-working British (licence-fee) payers using that kind of rhetoric and seemingly dismissing their legitimate concerns that they have about small boats crossings and illegal migration.”

After criticism of the BBC’s decision to make Gary step back from last weekend’s Match Of The Day, the director general Tim Davie said there would be an independent review of the corporation’s social media guidance in light of the controversy.

“I want to get matters resolved and our sport content back on air,” he said on Monday, confirming Gary’s return.

Davie warned staff about their use of social media when he took on the role at the end of 2020, and guidelines around social media use were updated.

Staff members at the corporation were told they needed to follow editorial guidelines and editorial oversight in the same way as when doing official BBC content.

However, he has said the new review of his guidance will focus on “how it applies to freelancers outside news and current affairs”, like Gary.