Gary Lineker has thanked BBC director general Tim Davie for his ‘understanding’ after the 62-year-old’s return to Match of the Day was officially confirmed by the broadcasting giant on Monday. The news of Lineker’s comeback after a four-day row over his Twitter conduct was announced by the BBC in a statement, which revealed that an independent review into the company’s social media policies will be carried out in due course.
Lineker also received an apology from the BBC, who suspended him from broadcasting duties last week after he compared the language used by the government to launch a new asylum policy with Germany in the 1930s. He has since thanked BBC director Davie for his co-operation in finding a resolution after crunch discussions were held with the former England striker over the weekend.
“I’d like to thank Tim Davie for his understanding during this difficult period,” tweeted Lineker. “He has an almost impossible job keeping everybody happy, particularly in the area of impartiality. I am delighted that we’ll continue to fight the good fight, together.”
Lineker’s suspension wreaked havoc on the BBC’s televised sporting schedule over the weekend, with several of his fellow pundits stepping down in support of their colleague while a host of other names rejected the chance to replace him by hosting Match of the Day. The programme eventually went ahead but in a condensed format without commentary or analysis, while many of the BBC’s other football shows were also cancelled including Football Focus and Final Score.
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Davie expressed a clear desire to resolve the situation quickly in an interview over the weekend and outlined his plan to review the BBC’s social media policies in Monday’s statement, saying: “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 statement also carried a brief quote from Lineker, who expressed his relief that the long and drawn-out saga was finally over by saying: “I am glad that we have found a way forward. I support this review and look forward to getting back on air.”
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