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BBC

Gary Lineker and the BBC resolve differences

After a week of debate, shows of solidarity and rather strange programming, an apology has been issued.

Update:
After a week of debate, shows of solidarity and rather strange programming, an apology has been issued.
SUSANNAH IRELANDAFP

On Monday morning, the saga that has shone a bright light on the required impartiality of the BBC has been been moved on. As sports presenter, and former star of the Beautiful Game, Gary Lineker tweeted his thoughts on a new government policy or, more accurately, on the language being used by the Conservative leaders over asylum seekers to the UK, a furore was created.

What followed saw the highly-respected Lineker sidelined from his usual spot on Match of the Day, with a brief footage-only montage of the day’s Premier League action going out with none of the usual analysis or commentary. Lineker’s colleagues had refused to work on the programme out of solidarity.

Lineker comments after being BBC benched

A week later and we now appear to have reached a solution, at least to the simple matter of the presenter returning to the national broadcaster. As the BBC apologised, the man himself shared his thoughts on social media.

‘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,’ Lineker continued.

‘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,’ he concluded in a four-part tweet, ending with a heart emoticon.

No doubt the debate will continue, but possibly the focus will return to where it should have stayed from the start. That is on the actual government policy, not what one person thinks about it, which is simply a distraction tactic to reduce the analysis.