A defiant Gary Lineker has said he’s “still punching” ahead of his return to the BBC after comparing the government’s language around the small boats crisis to Nazi Germany.
The Match of the Day star returns to the screen to present live coverage of the FA Cup quarter-final between Manchester City and Burnley on Saturday, having been suspended last week over the comments.
In his first television appearance since the row, Mr Lineker said: “You could say it’s been an interesting week but I’m still here, still punching.” Asked about the row by LaLiga TV he added: “It was interesting and also hugely gratifying.
“I had an amazing amount of support from my friends and colleagues, which was quite beautiful, actually. “It was totally disproportionate, the whole thing. “But we’re OK. It’s resolved, we’re relieved and back to work tomorrow and all is well with the world.”
Mr Lineker will not appear on MOTD tonight, although it’s understood his absence is due to scheduling rather than the row that ended up in his suspension.
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‘Totally disproportionate’: Lineker discusses small boats row
Re-cap: how did the Lineker row unfold?
10:50 , Matt Mathers
BBC sports presenter Gary Lineker has been embroiled in a row over impartiality after criticising the Government’s Illegal Immigration Bill in a post on Twitter.
The row has made headlines and front pages.
Here is a timeline of how events unfolded:
Why Gary Lineker won’t be on Match of the Day tonight
10:15 , Matt Mathers
Match of the Day viewers hoping to see Gary Lineker back at the helm of the Saturday night highlights programme will be kept waiting a little longer, following the BBC row over his criticism of government policy on asylum-seekers.
BBC sports programming fell into crisis last weekend after the presenter of 24 years was asked to step back from Match of the Day, prompting his fellow presenters, pundits and commentators to withdraw their own labour in solidarity.
But despite Lineker’s reinstatement on Monday, the star presenter will not be hosting the highlights show on Saturday night.
Andy Gregory reports:
09:18 , Matt Mathers
But he said he received a large amount of support during his dispute with the BBC, which had been gratifying and “quite beautiful”.
It comes as the TV star’s agent said he believed he had a “special arrangement” with the broadcaster that allowed him to make comments about refugees and the small boats crisis.
Jane Dalton reports:
What to expect from BBC social media review
06:45 , Jane Dalton
BBC director-general Tim Davie announced a review of social media guidelines as he recognised “the potential confusion caused by the grey areas” of the guidance.
Details of the review:
BBC apologised to staff and viewers
03:45 , Jane Dalton
The corporation apologised for a “difficult period for staff, contributors, presenters, and most importantly, our audiences”:
Presenter also earns from film and podcast company
01:50 , Jane Dalton
Gary Lineker tops up £1.35m BBC salary with more licence fee money, The Telegraph has reported.
It says he and other BBC broadcasters have worked on podcasts or television programmes made by Lineker’s Goalhanger film and podcast companies.
A BBC spokesman told the paper: “Gary is a freelance presenter and his BBC pay for that role is published annually, under transparency obligations in the BBC Charter.
“This is entirely separate to any programmes the BBC commissions from Goalhanger Productions, an independent production company.”
What are BBC guidelines on impartiality?
00:10 , Jane Dalton
What the BBC guidelines state and how they apply to Lineker:
Presenter backs UK trophy-hunt crackdown
Friday 17 March 2023 22:55 , Jane Dalton
Gary Lineker was among celebrities who supported a UK ban on imports of hunting trophies.
— dominic dyer (@domdyer70) March 16, 2023
The tweets that started it all
Friday 17 March 2023 21:55 , Jane Dalton
The debacle began when Lineker tweeted the government’s small boats approach was “an immeasurably cruel policy”:
‘Totally disproportionate’: Gary Lineker’s first TV appearance since BBC suspension
Friday 17 March 2023 19:34 , Jane Dalton
Football presenter Gary Lineker has condemned the row over his suspension by the BBC because of his tweets as “totally disproportionate”:
What can we expect from a BBC social media review after the Lineker row?
Friday 17 March 2023 15:15 , Andy Gregory
The director-general at the BBC, Tim Davie, has announced a review into social media guidelines as he recognised “the potential confusion caused by the grey areas” of the guidance, following the recent impartiality row over a tweet by Gary Lineker.
Ahead of the recently announced review, we look at what we know so far and how the review may be conducted based on the 2020 update.
Watch: Keir Starmer tells Rishi Sunak to 'stand up to snowflake MPs' over Gary Lineker BBC row
Friday 17 March 2023 12:44 , Andy Gregory
Ian Wright says ‘heads have got to roll’ after BBC management caused ‘hot mess’ over Gary Lineker row
Friday 17 March 2023 11:54 , Andy Gregory
Ian Wright has said “heads have got to roll” after managers at the BBC caused a “hot mess” at the weekend by asking Gary Lineker to step away from Match Of The Day.
During the beginning of the podcast Wrighty’s House, the 59-year-old said the row had been a “perfect distraction from what really matters”.
He added: “For me, they made a hot mess. I’m telling you, this is all from high up, I can’t blame my man (the head of BBC TV Sport) Philip Bernie, the BBC Sports team. All of this is over a tweet.”
Charlotte McLaughlin has the full report:
Stand up to snowflake MPs after Gary Lineker row, Starmer tells Sunak
Friday 17 March 2023 10:47 , Richard Wheeler
Rishi Sunak must “stand up to his snowflake MPs waging war on free speech” following the Gary Lineker row, Sir Keir Starmer has said.
The Labour leader sought assurances that Conservative MPs or others connected to the party did not lobby the BBC to “effectively cancel” Match of the Day last weekend.
Match of the Day theme tune drowns out BBC interview outside parliament after Gary Lineker row
Friday 17 March 2023 09:54 , Andy Gregory
The Match of the Day theme tune interrupted a BBC News interview outside parliament earlier this week.
As Tory MP Harriett Baldwin spoke about the Budget, she was drowned out by the iconic music from the famous football highlights programme.
It was blasted out around Westminster following the controversy surrounding the BBC and presenter Gary Lineker, who was told to step aside from last weekend’s Match of the Day after tweeting criticism about the government’s asylum policy.
My colleague Oliver Browning has more details:
Faith in BBC director general ‘at all time low’, claims union
Friday 17 March 2023 09:12 , Andy Gregory
Faith in BBC director-general Tim Davie is at an “all-time low” after the suspension and reinstatement of presenter Gary Lineker, a Union of Journalists official has said.
BBC programming was hit by strikes earlier this week, in which around 1,000 journalists were forecast to take part.
Former Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell – who was among those on a picket line outside Broadcasting House on Wednesday – said that BBC journalists had been “forced to strike” by proposed cuts to local radio.
Next BBC chair should not be ‘political appointment’, says ex-head of news
Friday 17 March 2023 09:04 , Andy Gregory
Roger Mosey, a former head of BBC television news and director of sport, has said the next BBC chair should not be a “political appointment” – claiming it would be a “great act of statesmanship” for Rishi Sunak to de-politicise the appointment.
It comes amid debate about the position of BBC chair Richard Sharp, who is subject to an ongoing review after it emerged he helped former prime minister Boris Johnson secure an £800,000 loan facility.
Speaking on Roger Bolton’s Beeb Watch podcast, Mr Mosey said it would be “an enormous gain” to have the future chairman be “someone who is not seen as being in a pocket of one party or another”.
Questions about Mr Sharp's position as BBC chairman have mounted following the recent impartiality row over tweets sent by Gary Lineker comparing the government’s language around asylum to that of Germany in the 1930s.
Gary Lineker had a ‘special arrangement’ with the BBC to tweet about refugees, says agent
Friday 17 March 2023 09:01 , Andy Gregory
Gary Lineker believed he had a “special arrangement” with the BBC allowing him to make comments about refugees and the small boats crisis, his agent has claimed.
Jon Holmes represents the football presenter, described the row as descending into “shambles” despite efforts to have “everyone calm down.”
He has claimed that his client believed he had an understanding with Tim Davie, director-general of the BBC, that he could make public statements on certain issues.
My colleague Thomas Kingsley has the full report:
Gary Lineker criticises Tory MP for ‘outrageous’ Nazi claim comments
Friday 17 March 2023 09:00 , Andy Gregory
Gary Lineker has hit back at a Conservative MP who falsely suggested that the BBC presenter had called so-called “red wall” voters in the north and Midlands “Nazis” and “racist bigots”, our political correspondent Adam Forrest reports.
Jonathan Gullis, Tory MP for Stoke-on-Trent North, said Rishi Sunak’s planned small boats crackdown had “upset all the right people in the right places”.
Reacting to a clip of the interview, Twitter user Simon Harris said: “I don’t think Gary Lineker has actually directly called red wall voters ‘Nazis’ Mr Gullis.”
Lineker then replied himself, tweeting: “No he hasn’t and never would. This is outrageous and dangerously provocative.”
Friday 17 March 2023 08:58 , Andy Gregory
Good morning, and welcome to The Independent’s live coverage, as Gary Lineker is set to return to present the first Match of the Day since he was reinstated by BBC bosses.
Opinion: Should celebrities ever hold their bosses to ransom?
Friday 17 March 2023 21:35 , Jane Dalton
Celebrities can be “too big to fail”, and broadcasters can be too reliant on them to sometimes do the right thing, writes Sean O’Grady: