Gary Lineker will RETURN to Match of the Day and BBC will apologise
Gary Lineker will RETURN to host Match of the Day FA Cup coverage this weekend: BBC is thrown into chaos with humiliating climbdown ‘as bosses apologise to the pundit’ after Twitter row chaos
- Lineker was taken off air by bosses at the BBC after his comments on Twitter
- Director General Tim Davie flew into the UK from the US to end the crisis
Gary Lineker will be back on BBC TV this weekend with no further punishment after BBC bosses backed down over his anti-Tory tweets – with the star even expected to receive an apology for being taken off air.
In an extraordinary capitulation, Director General Tim Davie has moved to secure a deal with the footballer turned broadcaster, 62, so he can present FA Cup coverage this weekend.
It marks a huge victory for the former England captain, the BBC’s highest-paid star on £1.35million a year, over the £5.3billion-a-year BBC in the crisis sparked by his anti-Tory tweets.
Mr Davie, who is facing calls to resign over the debacle, has apologised to BBC staff and presenters, which includes Mr Lineker, and BBC viewers and listeners, whose sporting coverage was decimated this weekend.
He said: ‘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’.
Lineker 1 – BBC 0: Gary, pictured walking his dog in south-west London yesterday, will be back on the TV this weekend after BBC bosses backed down
BBC director-general Tim Davie, pictured here in an interview with Nomia Iqbal yesterday, has denied he will resign over the row. The Prime Minister refused to give him his confidence yesterday
The row saw Match of the Day and Match of the Day 2 cut down to short shows without presenters, pundits, commentators or its famous theme tune. On-screen talent including former England strikers Alan Shearer and Ian Wright refused to appear in ‘solidarity’ with Lineker.
READ MORE HERE: Gary Lineker refuses to comment as he breaks cover for first time since Match of the Day aired without him
There was even a pro-Lineker protest outside the BBC in Salford and rumours that the Premier League is so furious about the scandal it could favour ITV during the next round of contract negotiations.
In order to end the row, the BBC is expected to be forced into launching a review of its guidelines on impartiality for freelance presenters such as Lineker, 62.
Until today, Lineker had refused to be drawn on his future as he walked his dog in south-west London yesterday. But last night Sky News reported sources close to Lineker saying they are ‘increasingly confident’ the dispute will be resolved ‘to his satisfaction’ within the next 24 hours.
‘Ambiguities’ in the presenter’s contract meant the corporation cannot force him to follow its rules, which prohibit staff members from making political comments. Lawyers are said to have advised the BBC could not sack him without a multi-million pound pay-off.
The BBC is said to have offered ‘a horrible review fudge’ of its social media guidelines, The Times reports.
Tim Davie’s own future could be in doubt after he has been criticised for his handling of the affair. Rishi Sunak would not be drawn on whether he retains confidence in him or BBC chairman Richard Sharp.
The BBC is currently due to broadcast two of the four FA Cup fixtures this weekend, including the much-anticipated tie between Premier League side Brighton and giant-killing minnows Grimsby Town, but disruption to its football coverage since Friday has thrown this into doubt.
Mr Lineker is due to present one of those shows – not the Match of the Day highlights programme this weekend, according to reports.
And in a sign of a thaw in the dispute, a BBC spokesman said: ‘We are working hard on a resolution and hope to have him back with us as soon as possible.’
A BBC source told the Telegraph things are ‘moving quickly’, adding: ‘Tim Davie has been clear that he wants to resolve the situation and see the MOTD presenter back on air.
‘Gary and his representatives have been in talks for a number of days and these are ongoing.’
Protestors gather outside the BBC’s main sports studio in Salford to show support for Gary Lineker
Match of the Day on Saturday was cut to just 20 minutes in length as presenters, staff and commentators refused to come to work in support for Lineker
Lineker was spotted in public for the first time yesterday after Match of the Day aired without him the previous night
Lineker, 62, was taken off air by bosses at the organisation on Friday after he criticised the Government’s anti-illegal immigration bill, sparking a walkout by colleagues.
READ MORE HERE: Fans blast ‘soulless’ Premier League highlights without pundits and commentators as they demand ‘#BringBackGary’ after Lineker’s on-air axing
It comes after BBC boss Tim Davie flew back from the US yesterday in an attempt to defuse a row which hit the corporation’s sports coverage this weekend.
There ‘are hopes of a resolution soon, but not all issues are “fully resolved” at this stage’, BBC news said.
A source added: ‘Both sides have been working on something that will satisfy the BBC’s concerns and allow Gary back on air. Things are going in the right direction.’
Senior bosses at the BBC are said to fear they cannot sack the former England striker, nor force him to follow a social media policy, due to ambiguities in his contract.
Instead, senior officials believe they would be forced to pay millions if they were to sack Lineker and are likely to lose any legal claim he could subsequently bring, The Independent reports.
Lineker is said to be on a 24-month contract negotiated prior to Davie’s arrival.
And despite Davie repeatedly emphasising the importance of impartiality, Lineker’s contract was not updated.
Meanwhile, presenters, pundits and commentators have refused to appear in an act of solidarity, with Match of the Day 2 last night airing without a presenter and lasting only 14 minutes. An apology was made to viewers prior to the show.
A continuity announcer said: ‘Now on BBC One, sorry we’re not able to show our normal Match Of The Day 2 including commentary tonight, but here’s the best action from today’s Premier League matches.’
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