Gary Lineker is expected to be reinstated to his football presenting duties following crisis talks with the BBC, i understands.

BBC director general Tim Davie and Mr Lineker are thought to have reached an agreement to allow the former England striker’s return to Match of the Day next weekend.

Mr Lineker was suspended by the broadcaster on Friday after criticising the Government’s new immigration policy.

The suspension led to a raft of flagship television and radio shows being cancelled over the weekend as BBC pundits, commentators and presenters backed Mr Lineker by refusing to work on football programmes.

Match of the Day, MoTD2 and live coverage of the Women’s Super League were among the programmes affected.

The presenter is said to have been touched by the support shown by other pundits and presenters, and his family yesterday thanked the public for their support. “The reaction of the public has been overwhelming. Thanks for the support,” his son, George, said.

It is also expected that Mr Davie will announce a review of social media guidance for all BBC presenters, whether staff or freelancers.

The review is likely to consider further guidelines on how non-news and current affairs presenters should use social media.

It comes in the wake of a weekend of chaos in with TV and radio scheduling had to be torn up because the the furore over Lineker’s suspension.

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The MoTD presenter had to step back from the show after his comments about migrant policy prompted fury among a succession of Tory MPs. Some BBC staff were also critical because they regarded Lineker’s tweets as a breach of the corporation’s impartiality rules.

Ian Wright, Alan Shearer and Alex Scott were among the BBC’s sporting stars to refuse to appear over on screen over the weekend, which led to Football Focus being cancelled, and Match of the Day being shortened to just a 20-minute programme without commentary.

Leading BBC Radio presenters also came out to support Mr Lineker, resulting in shows such as BBC Radio 5Live’s Fighting Talk and many of Saturday afternoon’s sporting shows being cancelled.

Some of the political anger began ebbing away yesterday after the BBC was seen to take action against the presenter.

However, there remained deep concern at the presenter’s remarks. Brendan Clarke-Smith, Conservative MP for Bassetlaw and a member of the Common Sense Group of MPs, which was heavily critical of Mr Lineker’s comments, said the BBC needed to “set some ground rules” about presenter’s social media use.

Handout photo of Director general of the BBC Tim Davie during a session at the Royal Television Society London Convention 2022. Picture date: Tuesday September 27, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story MEDIA RTS. Photo credit should read: Richard Kendal/RTS /PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
Tim Davie, director-general of the BBC, is understood to have held crisis talks with Lineker (Photo: Richard Kendal/RTS/PA Wire)

“At the moment he still doesn’t seem to give a damn and thinks he has a free license to do completely as he pleases. A bit of humility would go a long way towards putting an end to this dispute,” he told i.

He added that he had previously been critical of the BBC as he felt they “weren’t taking the issue seriously enough” but added: “Credit to them that they now clearly are.”

Another member of the group, Conservative MP for Ipswich Tom Hunt, said the BBC was “right” to suspend Mr Lineker and that “a full apology is needed” alongside “assurances that there won’t be any repeats in future”.

He told i: “Free speech is important. But when you’re the most highly paid employee of our tax payer funded national broadcaster clearly it does come with special responsibilities.”

As Lineker prepares to return to his BBC role, doubts are now being raised over the future of the corporation’s chairman Richard Sharp.

Mr Sharp is currently being investigated after he facilitated an £800,000 loan for Boris Johnson at the same time as he was applying to head the BBC.

Mr Sharp, who denies any wrongdoing, was later appointed by the then Prime Minister as chairman in February 2021.

This alleged conflict of interest and the issue around Mr Lineker’s suspension has led to renewed calls for Mr Sharp to resign.

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