'Success is getting Gary Lineker back on air' – BBC boss apologises for sport disruption

Gary Lineker arrives at the King Power Stadium to watch Leicester against Chelsea after being removed from that evening's Match of the Day by the BBC.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

BBC boss Tim Davie has apologised for the disruption to the station's sports coverage this weekend following the decision to remove Gary Lineker from Saturday night's Match of the Day programme.

The BBC announced on Friday that Lineker would be "stepping back" from the show after his criticism of the UK government on Twitter earlier in the week.

Lineker said the government's latest policy on migrant boats was "beyond awful" and "Immeasurably cruel", going on to add that the language employed was "not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s".

After Lineker was relieved of his duties for this weekend's Match of the Day, his colleagues showed solidarity by pulling out, leaving the programme to go ahead with no presenter, no analysis and no commentary on Saturday night.

Football Focus and Final Score were also wiped from the schedules following a series of high-profile absences, along with BBC Radio 5 Live's flagship football show.

"It has been a difficult day," Davie told BBC news. "We are working very hard to resolve the situation."

And he added: "Success for me is getting Gary back on air. I would like to see Gary Lineker return on air on the BBC. With that, we have to listen."

Earlier, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called Lineker a "talented presenter" and said he hoped the matter would be resolved soon.

"Gary Lineker was a great footballer and is a talented presenter," he said. "I hope that the current situation between Gary Lineker and the BBC can be resolved in a timely manner, but it is rightly a matter for them, not the government."

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Weekend editor

Ben Hayward is Weekend Editor for FourFourTwo. A European football writer with over 15 years’ experience, he has covered games all over the world - including three World Cups, several Champions League finals, Euros, Copa América - and has spent much of that time in Spain. He currently divides his time between Barcelona and London.