Gary Lineker row sparks BBC revolt as furious staff blast management's capitulation in hostile meeting

BBC New Broadcasting House with Gary Lineker and Tim Davie inset

The Gary Lineker row has sparked outrage at BBC senior management

Dan Falvey

By Dan Falvey

Published: 14/03/2023

- 08:46

Updated: 14/03/2023

- 15:20

BBC staff openly criticised senior management in a febrile session with the director of BBC Sport

BBC senior management are facing a revolt from furious staff over their handling of row over Gary Lineker's tweets.

The corporation is still grappling to regain control a week on from when the Match of the Day presenter plunged the broadcaster into chaos by comparing the Government's language to Nazi Germany.

At a meeting with director of BBC Sport Barbara Slater yesterday, staff openly attacked the broadcaster's handling of the row.

Some demanded answers about why management had capitulated to Lineker and why Match of the Day could not continue without him.

Others complained about a lack of consistency in the way impartiality rules were implemented and the fact the former England footballer appeared to be allowed to ignore the social media guidelines.

"There is frustration with Tim Davie and central management," a BBC source told The Times.

"Both for their handling of the situation and for not clarifying the policy on impartiality in the past.

"And there is some anger towards Gary. He’s had enough warnings."

Another insider said after the meeting with Slater: "f Barbara thought the meetings would succeed in repairing relations and improving the mood of staff, I’m not sure she succeeded."

There is said to be a "grim mood" in New Broadcasting House in London, with staff feeling "utterly let down" by the saga.

Yesterday BBC Director General Tim Davie announced that Lineker would be returning to Match of the Day from this weekend and apologised after last week's sports schedule was disputed by wave of walk outs from freelancers and senior presenters in solidarity with the the ex-striker.

In a statement, he said: “Everyone recognises this has been a difficult period for staff, contributors, presenters and, most importantly, our audiences. I apologise for this.

“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.”

He added: “We are announcing a review led by an independent expert – reporting to the BBC – on its existing social media guidance, with a particular focus on how it applies to freelancers outside news and current affairs.

“The BBC and myself are aware that Gary is in favour of such a review.

“Shortly, the BBC will announce who will conduct that review. Whilst this work is undertaken, the BBC’s current social media guidance remains in place.

“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.”

You may like