BBC boss Tim Davie refuses to resign over Gary Lineker row but admits ‘difficult day’ as presenters walk out in protest
THE BBC’s director general says he will not resign over the fallout of Gary Lineker’s suspension from Match Of The Day.
Mr Lineker, 62, was pulled off the flagship footie show on Friday after comparing the Government’s Illegal Migration Bill to “1930s Germany”.
BBCDespite the furore, the Beebs director general Tim Davie will not step down[/caption]
ReutersGary Lineker was pulled off Match Of The Day on Friday after comparing the Government’s Illegal Migration Bill to ‘1930s Germany’[/caption]
ReutersGary Lineker watched his beloved Leicester alongside one of his sons todayCredit: Reuters[/caption]
The free speech row triggered a mass walk out of presenters – plunging Match Of The Day into chaos and Football Focus being pulled off air.
But despite the furore, the Beebs director general Tim Davie will not step down.
Describing the carnage as a “difficult day” he apologised for the disruption to BBC sports programming.
He told the BBC on Saturday: “I’m sorry audiences have been affected and they haven’t got the programming.
“As a keen sports fan I know to miss programming is a real blow and I’m sorry about that.
“We are working very hard to resolve this situation and make sure we get output on air.”
Mr Davie did not confirm whether he had spoken to Mr Lineker in last 24 hours.
But he said: “Everyone wants to calmly resolve the situation.
“Gary Lineker’s the best in the business – that’s not for debate.”
As his employer battled fires on all fronts – Mr Lineker today took time out to watch his beloved Leicester City in action at the King Power Stadium against Chelsea.
The ex-England star was pictured watching the Foxes alongside one of his sons – and appeared all smiles despite his side losing 3-1.
The row was triggered when the veteran broadcaster responded to a video on Twitter of Home Secretary Suella Braverman as she presented the Government’s small boats plan.
The legislation will see migrants swiftly detained and removed to either their country of origin or a safe third state within 28 days.
Sharing the clip, Mr Lineker said: “Good heavens, this is beyond awful.”
Responding to another user who described him as “out of order”, he 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?”
In a statement after suspending Mr Lineker, the BBC outlined they had undergone “extensive discussions” with the ex-England star, 62, following the furore.
While the Beeb praised his sports coverage as “second to none” they said he should “keep well away from taking sides” on party political topics.
Ian Wright, Alan Shearer, Jermaine Jenas, Alex Scott, Mark Chapman and Micah Richards all refused to fill in on Match Of The Day amid Mr Lineker’s suspension.
The show’s commentary team are also standing down – meaning the show will go without presenters, pundits or commentators.
It means the show will be highlights only and will last just 20 minutes, reports the Daily Mail.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak waded into the row on Saturday – but said the presenter’s suspension is an issue for the BBC, not him.
Mr Sunak said the free speech row was “rightly a matter” for the BBC, not the Government.
He added that while he respected “not everyone will always agree” with Government policies, he praised Mr Lineker for being a “great footballer and talented presenter”.