UNITED KINGDOM: Gary Lineker is reportedly close to returning to present sports on the BBC, as the talks between the corporation and the presenter are said to be “moving in the right direction,” the BBC reported.
It follows a mutiny at the BBC that caused chaos over the weekend as commentators, pundits, and other staff refused to work in demonstration against Lineker’s removal from the show, resulting in disruptions in sports coverage.
Tim Davie, director general of the BBC, stated over the weekend that “We are working very hard to resolve the situation” and “success for me is getting Gary back on air.”
Lineker wrote on Twitter that he “cannot wait to get back in the MOTD chair” and that he is “immeasurably proud” to work for the BBC.
Gary Lineker row
Lineker, 62, wrote on Twitter about the government’s new immigration legislation and compared the language used around it to that of Germany in the 1930s. Later, on Friday evening, the BBC said that the match of the day presenter — its highest-paid star — had violated its guidelines on social media usage policies and was being taken off broadcast.
The row has sparked a larger debate about the BBC’s impartiality, the government’s asylum policy, and BBC chairman Richard Sharp’s position.
In the aftermath of the contentious suspension of the presenter, the company is anticipated to declare a review of its social media policies, with some reports suggesting Lineker may agree to be more cautious about what he tweets. While the review is underway, the BBC’s current social media guidelines will stay in effect.
Director general Davie says there are “grey areas” and that upholding impartiality requires striking a challenging balance. He claims he has not yielded to pressure from either one or more major parties.
Sources close to England’s former striker are reportedly becoming more confident that the impartiality row will be fixed to his satisfaction in the next 24 hours.
There is said to be “growing confidence” that he will return to host the popular BBC program from which he was fired last week following a tweet in which he compared language used to introduce the government’s new asylum policy with that used in Nazi Germany in the 1930s.
Football coverage on BBC TV and radio programs suffered over the course of the weekend as commentators, hosts, and correspondents—including Ian Wright, Alan Shearer, and Alex Scott—walked out in support of Lineker.
On Saturday, Match of the Day aired for just 20 minutes without any additional commentary or analysis from the presenters. On Sunday, the format was the same, with Match of the Day airing for a shorter 15 minutes.
Sunday’s Women’s Super League match between Chelsea and Manchester United was broadcast without a pre-match introduction, and over the weekend, Radio 5 Live mostly broadcast previously recorded content in lieu of its usual live sports coverage.
Richard Sharp, the head of the BBC, is coming under increasing demand to step down as the organization’s impartiality policy has come under scrutiny. In recent months, Sharp, who was named chair in February 2021, has become embroiled in a dispute over assisting the former prime minister Boris Johnson in obtaining an £800,000 loan facility.
The Director General of the BBC, Tim Davie, issued an apology for the disturbance but said he would not step down. On Saturday, he told BBC News that he was in “listening mode” regarding how to change the neutrality requirements for employees working outside of the news operation after a “difficult day.” He called Lineker the “best sports broadcaster in the world” and wished to see him back on the radio.
On Saturday, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak issued a statement defending the immigration policy, which bars the entrance of asylum seekers who arrive in small boats across the English Channel. He stated that he is hoping that the BBC and Lineker could fix their differences in a timely manner.
“It is rightly a matter for them, not the government,” Sunak stated.
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