Gary Lineker will return to host Match Of The Day after reaching an agreement with the BBC.
The broadcaster announced that the presenter will return to host the show this Saturday (March 18), with the corporation set to conduct a review into its social media guidance for freelancers outside news and current affairs.
It comes after Lineker was taken off air for criticising the government’s proposed immigration policy. Following Lineker’s removal, his fellow pundits Alan Shearer and Ian Wright boycotted the show last weekend in solidarity.
Tim Davie, director-general of the BBC, 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.
“Impartiality is important to the BBC. It is also important to the public. The BBC has a commitment to impartiality in its Charter and a commitment to freedom of expression. That is a difficult balancing act to get right where people are subject to different contracts and on air positions, and with different audience and social media profiles.
“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.”
Davie announced a review “led by an independent expert” will look into its current social media guidance, which Lineker is in “favour of”.
He added: “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.”
Following the announcement, Lineker posted a statement on Twitter. “After a surreal few days, I’m delighted that we have navigated a way through this. I want to thank you all for the incredible support, particularly my colleagues at BBC Sport, for the remarkable show of solidarity. Football is a team game but their backing was overwhelming.
I have been presenting sport on the BBC for almost 3 decades and am immeasurably proud to work with the best and fairest broadcaster in the world. I cannot wait to get back in the MOTD chair on Saturday. 2/4
— Gary Lineker 💙💛 (@GaryLineker) March 13, 2023
“I have been presenting sport on the BBC for almost three decades and am immeasurably proud to work with the best and fairest broadcaster in the world. I cannot wait to get back in the MOTD chair on Saturday.”
He added: “A final thought: however difficult the last few days have been, it simply doesn’t compare to having to flee your home from persecution or war to seek refuge in a land far away. It’s heartwarming to have seen the empathy towards their plight from so many of you. We remain a country of predominantly tolerant, welcoming and generous people. Thank you.”
In his original comments Lineker called the government’s controversial plan to ban people who enter the UK illegally from claiming asylum an “immeasurably cruel” policy. The presenter added that it was “directed at the most vulnerable people in language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the ‘30s”.
His comments were supported by a number of artists including Self Esteem and Fatboy Slim.
After Lineker was taken off air, Match Of The Day was broadcast on Saturday (March 11) without any presenters.