Gary Lineker will return to Match of the Day in days, BBC officially confirms as broadcaster apologises for row | The Sun

THE BBC apologised today as they confirmed Gary Lineker will return for FA Cup coverage following a row over his inflammatory migrant tweets.

The announcement comes after a weekend of chaos saw schedules changed last-minute and a different format for Match of the Day.

Lineker, 62, will return to screens to front this weekend's FA Cup action after striking a deal with the BBC.

The BBC is also going to review its social media guidelines as Director General Tim Davie apologised for the "difficult period" for staff, presenters and audiences.

He added: "Gary is a valued part of the BBC and I know how much the BBC means to Gary, and I look forward to him presenting our coverage this coming weekend.”

Lineker said in a statement: "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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The commentator later broke his Twitter silence after what he branded a "surreal few days".

He said he was "delighted to have navigated a way through this" as he thanked his colleagues for their "incredible support" and "remarkable show of solidarity".

Lineker said: "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.

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"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."

The decision to review the BBC's social media guidelines could prove a humiliating own goal for Mr Davie as they were written at his request in 2020 to include the "Lineker Clause".

This stated higher-profile presenters had an extra responsibility to avoid taking sides on political issues.

Mr Davie said today impartiality is "important" to the BBC and the public but admitted there is 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."

A review – supported by Lineker – will be led by an independent expert in due course.

He will "abide by the editorial guidelines” until that report is complete, Mr Davie confirmed.

The row erupted after Lineker criticised Home Secretary Suella Braverman's small boats plan.

The legislation will see migrants swiftly detained and removed to either their country of origin or a safe third state within 28 days.

Sharing the clip, Lineker said: "Good heavens, this is beyond awful."

Responding to another user who described him as "out of order", he added: "We take far fewer refugees than other major European countries.

"This is just an immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s, and I'm out of order?"

Lineker was accused by the BBC of breaking their strict impartiality rules that state staff must "avoid taking sides on political controversies" and "take care when addressing public policy matters".

The BBC said the pundit's comments were a "breach of our guidelines".

Ms Braverman later said his comments were "offensive".

She added: "To kind of throw out those kind of flippant analogies diminishes the unspeakable tragedy that millions of people went through…

"And I don’t think anything that is happening in the UK today can come close to what happened in the Holocaust."

The broadcaster revealed on Friday he had been suspended and would not host Saturday's Match of the Day – sparking a mutiny among his co-stars.

Ian Wright, Alan Shearer, Jermaine Jenas, Alex Scott, Mark Chapman and Micah Richards refused to fill in with the football analysis show plunged into crisis.

Saturday's night episode later aired with a stripped-back, 20 minute version that did not even feature the iconic theme tune.

Football Focus, Final Score, the Fighting Talk podcast and 5Live's 606 football phone in were all canned as schedules were sent spiralling.

And last night's Match Of The Day 2 ran for just 14 minutes, again with no commentary or presenters.

Mr Davie told the BBC on Saturday he would "absolutely not" quit amid the fallout.

Asked if he was sorry about the way he handled the row, he added: "We made decisions and I made decisions based on a real passion about what the BBC is and it's difficult."

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak waded into the row on Saturday, saying the Lineker's suspension is "rightly a matter" for the BBC, not him or Government.

He added that while he respected "not everyone will always agree" with Government policies, he praised the pundit for being a "great footballer and talented presenter".

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