Urgent talks between BBC and Gary Lineker progress as schedule chaos continues

The BBC is locked in urgent talks with Gary Lineker to get him back to work and end the staff boycott that has crippled the channel’s weekend sports schedule. The Independent understands.

Senior sources at the BBC said talks with the game of the day Hosts “stepped forward” with a goal of getting Lineker back to work this week. When reached, a breakthrough would be reported immediately.

BBC director-general Tim Davie has made it clear he wants the presenter back on the air after he was suspended on Friday for comparing the government’s crackdown on asylum to 1930s Germany.

His suspension led dozens of pundits, commentators and presenters to stage a mutiny, sending sports coverage into chaos over the weekend – and forcing the BBC to take down Focus football, battle talk And bottom line from his schedule.

game of the day was replaced with an abridged highlights reel with no commentary and no studio panditery with Sundays on Saturday nights game of the day 2 also broadcast without moderators.

Gary Lineker outside his home on Sunday


Lineker, who has not made any public statements since departing, was quiet as he left his home on Sunday, telling reporters: “I can’t say anything” when asked if he had spoken to Mr Davie.

However, his son George tweeted his support for his father on Sunday, saying: “Proud of the old man after a busy few days. Shouldn’t have to apologize for being a good person and keeping his word. The public reaction was overwhelming. Thanks for the support.”

Conversations come after that The Independent revealed the BBC fears it will not be able to fire Lineker or force him to follow social media rules on impartiality due to ambiguities in his contract. The corporation would be forced to pay millions if it wanted to oust Lineker and would likely lose any legal title it had game of the day Moderator, senior figures believe.

In his first interview since the fallout, Mr Davie apologized for the disruption in the company’s coverage while praising Lineker as “the best in the business” and saying he wanted to find a “reasonable solution” to get him back on the air.

However, despite one of the biggest meltdowns in the company’s history, Mr Davie said he would not be stepping down. “As an avid sports fan, I know like everyone that missing the program is a real blow and I’m sorry for that. We are working very hard to resolve the situation and ensure we get the issue back on the air,” said Mr Davie.

Match of the Day 2 is also expected to be cut to a shorter program

(BBC/Pete Dads)

The BBC’s coverage of Sunday’s Women’s Super League game between Chelsea and Manchester United was broadcast without a pre-match presentation and with commentary from the World Feed instead of the regular BBC presenters.

For a second day, Radio 5 Live also replaced its usual live sports coverage with pre-recorded content. The channel provided match commentary on its two scheduled Premier League games on Sunday afternoon, but sports presenter Alistair Bruce-Ball admitted it had been a “very difficult decision” to go on the air.

Speaking ahead of the Fulham game against Arsenal, Mr Bruce-Ball said: “It was a very difficult decision to make personally – I can assure you it was not taken lightly – but I am a BBC worker, I am a radio commentator for this station and like yesterday we are here to offer our football service to you, our audience.”

Former BBC manager Peter Salmon, who was previously BBC One’s controller and sporting director, said Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg the situation is “complex” and Lineker a “big figure”. He added: “Twenty-five years on ‘Match of the Day’ – he’s more than just a TV presenter, he’s a national figure.

“He has views, he has passions, he has taken care of Ukrainian refugees. Gary may have outgrown the job and role at the BBC. Twenty-five years later, before Gary Des Lynam took over, he was brilliant. Sometimes there comes a point where you cross the line.”

Former BBC director-general Mark Thompson said he “absolutely hopes” and “believes” Mr Davie will survive the impartiality dispute over Lineker. Asked by Künssberg if he thinks the presenter will be back on the air by Sunday night, he replied: “I hope so.”

He told Sky News whether the TV expert should apologize Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “I don’t agree with his comments and personally I think he was wrong about what he said, but I don’t think it’s up to me to decide how to resolve this issue.”

https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/gary-lineker-match-of-the-day-bbc-b2299153.html Urgent talks between BBC and Gary Lineker progress as schedule chaos continues


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