Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer apologised for disruption caused to viewers of Match of the Day as they made their comeback today, a week after walking out amid an impartiality row.
The 62-year-old was told to step back from hosting the BBC’s flagship football show over a tweet comparing the language used to launch a new Government asylum seeker policy with that used in 1930s Germany.
As he made his return on Saturday evening, Lineker was joined in the studio by Alan Shearer and fellow former England footballer turned pundit Micah Richards.
At the start of the evening’s show, Shearer said: ‘I just needed to clear up and wanted to say how upset we were [for] all the audiences who missed out on last weekend.
‘It was a really difficult situation for everyone concerned and through no fault of their own, some really great people in TV and in radio were put in an impossible situation, and that wasn’t fair.
‘So, it’s good to get back to some sort of normality and be talking about football.’
Lineker said: ‘I absolutely echo those sentiments.’
Gary Lineker made his much-vaunted return to Match of the Day this evening, a week after the show aired with no presenters following an impartiality row
Lineker’s co-hosts Alan Shearer and Micah Richards helped man the show, with Shearer apologising to viewers over last week’s ‘impossible situation’
Lineker was also pictured greeting former journalist and Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell, who is a Burnley supporter and hosts The Rest Is Politics – produced by Lineker’s company Goalhanger Podcasts
Gary Lineker posed for selfies with fans as he arrives at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester
The broadcaster was presenting the BBC ‘s coverage of the FA Cup quarter-final between Manchester City and Burnley at the Etihad Stadium
The former England striker earlier said it was ‘great to be here’.
Before coming on air, Lineker posted a photo of himself at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester and told his Twitter followers: ‘Ah the joys of being allowed to stick to football.’
He was also pictured greeting former journalist and Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell, who is a Burnley supporter and hosts The Rest Is Politics – which is produced by Lineker’s company Goalhanger Podcasts.
broadcaster Mark Chapman will later host the MOTD highlights show – which aired for only 20 minutes last weekend without accompanying commentary or analysis from presenters.
Sunday’s edition also had a similar format and ran for just 15 minutes.
After the episodes aired, the BBC performed a humiliating U-turn, even apologising to the former footballer and vowing to review its social media guidelines.
On Monday, 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.’
Lineker was this morning pictured leaving his home in south London, dressed in a dark suit with a charcoal shirt, clutching a coat and a bag, before stepping into a car.
Asked last night by LaLiga Sports TV about how his week has been, the former England striker said: ‘Really quiet. Nothing much going on. You could say it’s been an interesting week but I’m still here, still punching.
‘It was interesting and also hugely gratifying, I had an amazing amount of support from my friends and colleagues which was quite beautiful actually.
Lineker is seen back in the studio working on the game ahead of kick-off in the English FA Cup quarter-final football match between Manchester City and Burnley
BBC Sport presenter Gary Lineker (right) and pundit Alan Shearer, returning to TV screens following a row over impartiality
People wearing Gary Lineker masks march during a Stand Up To Racism protest today at George Square in Glasgow
He said, ‘The joys of being allowed to stick to football!’ alongside a photo of himself covering Manchester City v Burnley today
Gary Lineker tweeted a ‘teammates’ picture of Alan Shearer and Micah Richards, who backed him over his ‘Nazi’ tweet row
Gary Lineker was pictured leaving his south London home today before he makes his much-anticipated return to TV this afternoon
The broadcaster is due back on our screens at 5.25pm today to present the BBC’s coverage of the FA Cup quarter-final between Manchester City and Burnley at the Etihad Stadium
Lineker’s tweet that started the entire saga that led to staff walkouts at the BBC after the corporation’s decision to boot the MOTD host off air
Alan Shearer arrives at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester to present live coverage with Gary Lineker, of the FA Cup quarter-final between Manchester City and Burnley on the BBC
Gary Lineker (left) speaks to Alastair Campbell (right) as he arrives at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester to present live coverage of the FA Cup quarter-final between Manchester City and Burnley on the BBC
Lineker was this morning pictured leaving his home in south London, dressed in a dark suit with a charcoal shirt, clutching a coat and a bag, before stepping into a car
It is his first appearance since he was told to step back from hosting Match Of The Day (MOTD) in a row over impartiality
Lineker, 62, was taken off air last week for a tweet comparing the language used to launch the Government’s new Illegal Migration Bill with 1930s Germany
‘It was totally disproportionate the whole thing but we’re OK. It’s resolved, I’m relieved, I’m back to work tomorrow and all is well with the world.’
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.
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.’
It comes as protesters wore masks of Lineker’s face at a pro-refugee march in Glasgow this morning.
Crowds descended on the Scottish city with placards reading ‘refugees welcome’ and ‘stop Rwanda’, a reference to Suella Braverman’s policy to deport people arriving in the UK illegally in small boats to the African country.
The Home Secretary doubled down on the controversial policy today by making her first visit to Rwanda since taking the cabinet role.
Ms Braverman said the plan ‘will act as a powerful deterrent against dangerous and illegal journeys’.
The minister also hit back at critics of the deal, saying Rwanda can hold ‘many thousands’ of migrants – although none have yet been relocated.