Gary Lineker is FINISHED at the BBC: Ex-Director General and FA boss makes extraordinary claim in wake of Nazi row
Published: 11/03/2023- 11:15
Updated: 11/03/2023- 11:27
GARY LINEKER will never work for the BBC again, former Director General Greg Dyke has claimed.
The ex-BBC boss - who was also Chairman of the Football Association - said he thought the corporation had made a big mistake by suspending the star.
And he insisted Lineker's career at the broadcaster is now likely over, even warning that Match if the Day itself may not recover despite it's 60-year history as Britain's landmark football show.
Saturday’s Match Of The Day will go ahead without a presenter, pundits and several regular commentators after Lineker was told to step back from hosting the BBC show.
Greg Dyke, the BBC Director Ggeneral between 2000 and 2004, said the broadcaster was “mistaken” in standing Lineker down.
He told Radio 4’s Today programme that the precedent at the corporation is that “news and current affairs employees are expected to be impartial and not the rest”.
“If you start applying the rules of news and current affairs to everybody who works for the BBC, where does it end?”, he said.
"In 20 years since I left the BBC I've never publicly criticised them, but they've made a mistake here.
"I suspect this is the end of Gary Lineker as a BBC presenter and I suspect it will have a long term effect on Match of the Day."
Dyke added: “There is a long-established precedent in the BBC that is, that if you’re an entertainment presenter or you’re a football presenter, then you are not bound by those same (impartiality) rules.
“The real problem of today is that the BBC has undermined its own credibility by doing this because it looks like – the perception out there – is that the BBC has bowed to Government pressure.
“And once the BBC does that, then you’re in real problems.
“The perception out there is going to be that Gary Lineker, a much-loved television presenter, was taken off air after Government pressure on a particular issue.”
Former England footballers and Match Of The Day regulars including Alan Shearer and Ian Wright announced on Friday that they would be boycotting the show in solidarity with Lineker. Alex Scott also decided to stand back from Football Focus, while Match of the Day 2 is in doubt after its host - Mark Chapman - joined the growing boycott.
Several of the show’s commentators also said they would be stepping down from Saturday’s broadcast.
The BBC said the show would “focus on match action without studio presentation or punditry”, saying it understood the position of its presenters.
Lineker, 62, became embroiled in a row over impartiality after comparing the language used to launch a new Government asylum seeker policy with 1930s Germany on Twitter.
The broadcaster said it had “decided” Lineker would take a break from presenting the highlights programme until an “agreed and clear position” on his use of social media had been reached.
BBC director-general Tim Davie – who warned staff about their use of social media when he took on the role at the end of 2020 before guidelines on their use were updated – was asked by BBC News why Lineker had not been sacked.
Davie replied: “Well I think we always look to take proportionate action and that’s what we’ve done.”
He said he would not “add to” the corporation’s current statement on the matter but that there had been “very constructive discussions”.
Reacting to Shearer and Wright’s boycott, the BBC boss added: “I absolutely respect people’s right to make that decision, and BBC Sport have to look at the programme they will produce for the weekend as normal.”
Gary Lineker compared the Government's language on migrants to 1930s Germany
The Daily Express reported a group of 36 Conservative MPs and peers had signed a letter to Davie, demanding a full and independent investigation into Lineker’s remarks as well as a full apology “without reservation” from the presenter.
Before the BBC announcement, former Manchester City defender Micah Richards and former Tottenham midfielder Jermaine Jenas – who were both not due to appear this weekend on Match Of The Day – also backed their fellow pundits.
Football Focus presenter Alex Scott said on Saturday morning, just hours before the lunchtime show was due to be broadcast, that “it doesn’t feel right going ahead with the show today”.
She wrote on Twitter: “I made a decision last night that even though I love doing Football Focus and we have had an incredible week winning an SJA award that it just doesn’t feel right going ahead with the show today. Hopefully I will be back in the chair next week…”
The Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) will fully support any players who do not want to fulfil media duties with the BBC after Premier League matches in solidarity with Lineker and the other pundits.
A number of players contacted the PFA seeking advice, and the union has subsequently spoken to all Premier League clubs to establish a collective position.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman has criticised Lineker's comments
The PFA tweeted on Saturday: “We have been informed that players involved in today’s games will not be asked to participate in interviews with Match Of The Day.
“The PFA have been speaking to members who wanted to take a collective position and to be able to show their support for those who have chosen not to be part of tonight’s programme.
“During those conversations we made clear that, as their union, we would support all members who might face consequences for choosing not to complete their broadcast commitments. This is a common-sense decision that ensures players won’t now be put in that position.”
Nottingham Forest, who visit Tottenham on Saturday afternoon, said in a statement: “We support our players and manager in whatever personal decision they choose to make regarding their post-match BBC interviews at today’s game.”
An online petition calling for Lineker to be reinstated in his post, organised by the Daily Mirror on Friday, reached 100,000 signatures in under 10 hours.
Philippa Childs, head of Bectu, which represents thousands of BBC workers, said the Lineker decision was “deeply concerning” and “will give the appearance that they have bowed to political pressure from ministers”.
The row was first sparked by Lineker’s response on Twitter to a Home Office video in which Home Secretary Suella Braverman unveiled the Government’s plans to stop migrants crossing the Channel on small boats.
The former England striker wrote: “There is no huge influx. We take far fewer refugees than other major European countries.
“This is just an immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the ’30s.”