Gary Lineker says ‘great to be here’ as he makes BBC return to cover football

Gary Lineker has shared a picture of himself in a BBC studio ahead of returning to present live coverage of the FA Cup quarter-final between Manchester City and Burnley.

The presenter, 62, was taken off air last week by the corporation for a tweet comparing the language used to launch a new Government asylum seeker policy with 1930s Germany in a row over impartiality.

Taking to Twitter on Saturday (18 March), the broadcaster shared a photo of himself at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester ahead of the FA Cup quarter-final between Manchester City and Burnley.

In the caption, he wrote: "Ah the joys of being allowed to stick to football."

He later shared another picture with former England footballers turned hosts Alan Shearer and Micah Richards calling them “teammates” as they prepared to give an on-air analysis on the game.

As the show opened, Lineker said it was "great to be here" as Alan Shearer told viewers that last week was a "difficult situation", when sports presenters and journalists refused to appear on-air.

However, he added it was "good to get back to some normality and to be talking about football again", to which Lineker said he echoed those sentiments.

Ahead of his first appearance on the BBC since he was told to step back from Match of the Day last week, he told LaLiga Sports TV on Friday it had been “really quiet” before adding he is “still here, still punching”.

The former England striker also said: “It was totally disproportionate the whole thing, but we’re OK. It’s resolved, I’m relieved.”

Many of Lineker’s BBC Sport colleagues walked out in “solidarity” last weekend, with highlight shows significantly shorter than usual and aired without presentation or commentary.

MOTD aired for only 20 minutes last Saturday without accompanying commentary or analysis from presenters, with Sunday’s edition following a similar format and running for just 15 minutes.

BBC director-general Tim Davie said in a statement the corporation has commissioned an independent review of its social media guidelines, particularly for freelancers.

Mr Davie apologised for what he acknowledged had been “a difficult period for staff, contributors, presenters and, most importantly, our audiences” and 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.”

After the official BBC statement was published, Lineker tweeted that he was “delighted” to have navigated a way through the row after a “surreal few days”.

He added: “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.”


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