Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has told how the BBC and Match of the Day presenter Gary Linker can resolve their dispute in “timely manner”.
The corporation announced yesterday that Linker will step back from his presenting duties “until an agreement is reached on his social media use” – after he criticised the Government’s new immigration policy.
The BBC was then thrown into chaos after sports presenters and pundits pulled out of programmes in support of the former England striker.
As a result, Match of the Day will air tonight without a presenter and pundits.
Football Focus was due to air at midday today but was replaced by Bargain Hunt and The Repair Shop was broadcast instead of Final Score.
Responding the BBC’s move, Mr Sunak said in a statement Mr Lineker was a great footballer and is a talented presenter and he hoped the dispute would be concluded swiftly.
He also stood by the immigration policy, which is designed to stop migrants illegally crossing the English Channel by boat, was “fair and right”.
He said: “As Prime Minister, I have to do what I believe is right, respecting that not everyone will always agree. That is why I have been unequivocal in my approach to stopping the boats
“Gary Lineker was a great footballer and is a talented presenter. 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.
“While that process is ongoing, it is important that we maintain perspective, particularly given the seriousness of the issue at hand. Forty-five thousand people crossed the channel illegally in the past two years, many of whom have been exploited or trafficked by criminal gangs, putting their lives in danger.
“We need to break this cycle of misery once and for all and the policy we set out this week I believe aims to do just that. It is not only the fair and moral thing to do, it is also the compassionate thing to do.
“There are no easy answers to solving this problem, but I believe leadership is about taking the tough decisions to fix problems. I know not everyone will always agree, but I do believe this is fair and right.”
This story is being updated.