Gary Lineker will return to host Match of the Day after he was suspended from the BBC’s flagship football show over a Twitter row.

The presenter – who is the corporation’s highest paid star – had been embroiled in a dispute over impartiality rules after comparing the language used to launch a new Government asylum policy with 1930s Germany.

Match of the Day was forced to air in silence at the weekend after Lineker’s BBC Sport colleagues pulled out of the programme en mass in solidarity – here’s everything you need to know.

When is Gary Lineker back on Match of the Day?

It was announced on Monday that Gary Lineker would return to hosting duties on Match of the Day, which next airs on Saturday 18 March.

He will also be allowed to continue tweeting about politics as normal, i understands, with insiders saying that the corporation has agreed to let Lineker back on air without any restrictions on his social media output.

In a statement agreed between Lineker and the BBC, the corporation announced it would be conducting a review of its social media guidelines.

The presenter tweeted: “After a surreal few days, I’m delighted that we have navigated a way through this. I want to thank you all for the incredible support, particularly my colleagues at BBC Sport, for the remarkable show of solidarity. Football is a team game but their backing was overwhelming.

“I have been presenting sport on the BBC for almost 3 decades and am immeasurably proud to work with the best and fairest broadcaster in the world. I cannot wait to get back in the MOTD chair on Saturday.

“A final thought: however difficult the last few days have been, it simply doesn’t compare to having to flee your home from persecution or war to seek refuge in a land far away. It’s heartwarming to have seen the empathy towards their plight from so many of you.

“We remain a country of predominantly tolerant, welcoming and generous people. Thank you.”

Lineker also paid tribute to the BBC Director General Tim Davie for his “understanding” throughout the saga.

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

He added:  “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.”

Gary Lineker, former England footballer turned sports TV presenter for the BBC, walks his dog, in London, on March 13, 2023. - Gary Lineker will return as presenter of the flagship BBC football show Match of the Day, the broadcaster said on March 13, 2023, ending a crisis sparked by his criticism of the UK government's new asylum policy. The former England footballer was suspended on March 10, 2023 after using Twitter last week to compare the language used to launch the new policy to the rhetoric of Nazi-era Germany. (Photo by Niklas HALLE'N / AFP) (Photo by NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP via Getty Images)
Lineker said he ‘cannot wait’ to get back on Match of the Day (Photo: AFP/Getty Images)

Why was Gary Lineker suspended from MOTD?

On Friday 10 March, the BBC announced that Lineker was to “step back” from presenting Match of the Day.

A spokesperson for the corporation said: “We have said that we consider his recent social media activity to be a breach of our guidelines.

“The BBC has decided that he will step back from presenting Match Of The Day until we’ve got an agreed and clear position on his use of social media.”

It added: “We have never said that Gary should be an opinion-free zone, or that he can’t have a view on issues that matter to him, but we have said that he should keep well away from taking sides on party political issues or political controversies.”

However, Match of the Day was forced to air in silence on Saturday after pundits and commentators refused to take part in it in solidarity with the show’s suspended presenter.

More on Gary Lineker

Ian Wright and Alan Shearer, who join Lineker on the show, were swift to confirm that they would not appear, prompting a mass withdrawal of BBC sports presenters.

It was an extraordinary episode which had no commentary on highlights, no studio pundits or presenters and only lasted 20 minutes, instead of the normal 80.

The show was rebranded as Premier League Highlights and it did not have its normal title sequence – including its iconic theme tune, which has featured on the show since August 1970.

Other BBC football staples such as Football Focus and Final Score were also pulled from schedules on a bizarre day for the broadcaster.

The Director General apologised to viewers for the disruption in sports programmes but said he refused to quit over the crisis.

When asked in a interview with the BBC whether he would step down, Davie said: “My job is to serve licence fee payers and I look forward to resolving this situation.”

People stand outside the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) headquarters in London, Britain, March 13, 2023. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
Most of the BBC’s football programming was pulled on Saturday (Photo: Reuters)

What did Gary Lineker say about immigration?

The row erupted on Tuesday 7 March, when Gary Lineker wrote on Twitter about a Home Office video in which Ms Braverman unveiled the Government’s plans to stop migrants crossing the Channel on small boats and said the UK is being “overwhelmed”.

The Match of the Day presenter tweeted: “Good heavens, this is beyond awful.”

Told by another user he was “out of order”, the former England striker added: “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, and I’m out of order?”

Ms Braverman’s video and accompanying tweet included the words “enough is enough” and “we must stop the boats”.

After making the comments, Lineker quickly faced criticism from Downing Street, Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer and Ms Braverman, who accused him of “diminishing the unspeakable tragedy” of the Holocaust.

He refused to back down over his stance, but initially said on Thursday that he was “very much looking forward” to presenting Match Of The Day, before the BBC’s announcement.

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