BBC and Gary Lineker close to resolution after second day of disruption
Hope for resolution, but not all issues resolved
Talks between the BBC and Gary Lineker are said to be “moving in the right direction” after a second day of scheduling disruption. BBC News understands there are hopes of a resolution soon but not all issues are “fully resolved” at this stage.
Weekend football coverage disrupted
Weekend football coverage has been disrupted due to walkouts triggered by the Match of the Day host‘s suspension. Director General Tim Davie has apologised to licence fee payers for the changes. Presenters, pundits and commentators pulled out of BBC football coverage in support of Lineker, who was taken off air for criticising government asylum plans.
Increased turmoil for BBC’s sports operation on Saturday
TV and radio coverage have been hit throughout Sunday as the stand off between the host and the BBC continues. It follows an unprecedented day of turmoil for the BBC’s sports operation on Saturday, with some of the most recognisable faces and voices associated with the broadcaster walking out.
Muted weekend programming
BBC Two’s Sunday afternoon coverage of the Women’s Super League went ahead without studio analysis and had to rely on world feed commentary, while Radio 5 Live was forced to plug gaps in the schedule with pre-recorded programmes for a second straight day. Match of the Day 2 will follow the main programme’s much-reduced format – airing for just 15 minutes – without the usual commentators and host Mark Chapman.
Enforcing impartiality rules complex
Paul Armstrong, a former Match of the Day editor, said there was a “lack of consistency…and clear guidelines” for how impartiality implies to sports staff. Appearing on Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg armed with the BBC’s latest impartiality rules, he urged everyone to calm down.
Calls for resolution from senior figures
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the issue between the BBC and Lineker should be resolved by the BBC itself. Home Secretary Suella Braverman and Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer have both attacked the presenter this week for his comparison between the government’s language and Nazi Germany. Labour’s Shadow Chancellor Rachael Reeves said the BBC had “clearly come under immense pressure from the Conservative Party to take Gary Lineker off air”.
Further internal reviews conducted
An ongoing KC-led review into Richard Sharp’s appointment as BBC chairman is investigating whether he failed to properly disclose details of his involvement in the facilitation of an £800,000 loan guarantee for the then Prime Minister Boris Johnson. He has denied any involvement in the arrangement of a loan for Mr Johnson. The BBC is also conducting its own internal review over any potential conflicts of interest Mr Sharp may have in his current role as BBC chairman. Mr Sharp has resisted calls to quit.
Uncertainty swells over Lineker’s return
Meanwhile, uncertainty continues to swirl as to whether Lineker will return to the BBC. Questioned by reporters on Sunday morning outside his home, Lineker replied only “I can’t say anything at the moment” when asked if he would return to the BBC or if he had been approached by rival broadcasters.
“Dad is a good man,” says Lineker’s son
But his son, George, told the Sunday Mirror that he thought his father would return to presenting Match of the Day. He later tweeted: “Dad is a good man, a good human, and I’m proud of him for standing by his word. That’s why he was pulled off the show – because he wouldn’t apologise. But he will always speak up for people who don’t have a voice.”
Row triggered by criticism of government’s asylum policy
The row erupted after Lineker called the so-called Stop The Boats Bill an “immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s”.