Defiant Gary Lineker refuses to back down in migrant Twitter row with BBC after day of chaos for its football coverage
BBC boss Tim Davie was last night locked in a personal shootout with Gary Lineker after a day of chaos for the Beeb’s sports coverage.
Davie insisted he would not quit while Lineker refuses to back down amid a row over his controversial tweets.
GettyBBC boss Tim Davie was last night locked in a personal shootout with Gary Lineker after a day of chaos for the Beeb’s sports coverage[/caption]
Bosses have demanded that the Match of the Day host agree a deal to stop posting political messages
The saga saw Match of the Day cut from 80 minutes to just 20 and several other football shows axed as other stars walked out in support.
BBC bosses have demanded Lineker agree to stop posting political messages online after he commented on the Government’s small boats policies.
But a source close to the £1.35million-a-year England legend insisted he would carry on.
BBC director-general Tim Davie admitted it had been a “difficult day” — but said of quitting: “My job is to serve licence fee– payers and I look forward to resolving this situation.”
PM Rishi Sunak said he hopes the row ends “in a timely manner”.
Lineker is set for crisis talks but former BBC Director General Greg Dyke feared the fallout could spell the end of his career at the Beeb.
In a dramatic 24 hours:
FOOTBALL Focus and Final Score were cancelled after Alex Scott, Kelly Somers and Jason Mohammad refused to go in front of the camera;
FIGHTING Talk and the 606 show on Radio 5 Live were pulled;
BBC Director General Tim Davie apologised but insisted he would not resign;
PAL and follow presenter Ian Wright threatened to quit if the BBC got rid of Lineker;
IT emerged Lineker confided in TV pal Andrew Castle that he had gone “too far” in his tweets.
Fury erupted among fellow BBC stars when Lineker, 62, was kicked off air on Friday after comparing the Government’s migrants crackdown to that of 1930s Germany.
Sources say Lineker was left stunned by the BBC’s move but has been thrilled with the show of support from stars and the public.
He is now set for crisis talks with Mr Davie, who admitted last night in Washington that it had been “a difficult day”.
But he insisted he was keen for the broadcaster to return. He said: “Success for me is Gary getting back on air. We’ve got the best sports broadcaster in the world. We want to make sure that he can come back.”
He said he planned to “calmly resolve the situation”.
PAPM Rishi Sunak said he hopes the row ends ‘in a timely manner’[/caption]
For the first time Football Focus was not broadcast
Asked in a BBC News interview if he should resign, he replied: “Absolutely not.”
He also declined to say if he had spoken to Lineker in the last 24 hours. It was reported last night that ITV and BT were looking to poach the veteran presenter.
Ex-Arsenal striker and Match of the Day co-host Wright — who with fellow pundit Alan Shearer was among the first to pull out in support — yesterday launched a scathing attack on the BBC.
He said: “I’ll tell you something. If they do – the BBC get rid of Gary Lineker – I’m out, I’m gone. I’m not staying there. On his own platform he should be able to say what he wants to say.”
The BBC’s decision caused outrage on social media – where #IStandWithGaryLineker trended with celebs showing their support.
Aston Villa captain Tyrone Mings, 29, was understood to be the first current Premier League star to speak out on the issue. He tweeted: “Big up Gary Lineker, Ian Wright and Alan Shearer.”
The 606 phone-in show with Robbie Savage and Chris Sutton was also pulled, replaced by a Eurovision podcast
Colin Murray pulled out of Fighting Talk
A day of scheduling chaos saw Football Focus replaced with an old episode of Bargain Hunt while The Repair Shop was shown instead of Final Score.
Radio 5 Live’s traditional Saturday football coverage was also ripped to shreds, with Colin Murray pulling out of Fighting Talk and Mark Chapman standing down from presenting duties.
The 606 phone-in show with Robbie Savage and Chris Sutton was also pulled, replaced by a Eurovision podcast.
Pundit Dion Dublin tweeted: “In solidarity with my BBC Sport colleagues NO 5live for me today!”
Ex-footballer Glenn Murray also pulled out of Football Focus and Final Score duties.
He tweeted: “I was meant to be up in Media City today but reflecting last night I felt it was the right thing to do to step away from Focus and Score today. Hoping normal service resumes next week.”
The BBC yesterday apologised and said it was “working hard to resolve the situation and hope to do so soon”.
The scheduling mayhem is also set to continue into today, as former Spurs star Jermain Defoe pulled out of punditry duties on Match of the Day 2 tonight.
Meanwhile, it emerged that Lineker confided to a friend that his controversial tweets about migrants were a “step too far”.
Former tennis star Andrew Castle said on his LBC show yesterday: “I was with Gary Lineker for half a day, plus, on Thursday, I was working with him. His phone was going absolutely mad.
Final Score was cancelled as Jason Mohammad refused to go in front of the camera
Meanwhile Match of the Day 2 host Mark Chapman stood down from presenting duties
“I said to him, that I thought to draw the parallels between, you know, the rise of Nazisim in the 30s and early 30s government and the immigration policy of a serving Conservative Party was a step too far and he agreed. And he said so.
“He’s alluded to that. If he was to apologise, then fine I suspect he could go back on air but it’s gone a little bit too far for that.”
Lineker has been told by the BBC to re-think his social media use — but ex-BBC boss Mr Dyke said yesterday he was entitled to express controversial views.
He told Radio 4’s Today programme: “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 rules.”
However he added it was “quite clear” he did not intend to give the BBC any assurances about his future conduct and that “therefore I suspect this is the end of Gary Lineker as a BBC presenter as we’ve known him”.
PM Sunak also waded into the row last night – insisting he is right to take “tough decisions” to fix the migration crisis. He added: “It is important that we maintain perspective, particularly given the seriousness of the issue at hand.”
ReutersHe and son Angus saw The Foxes lose 3-1 to Chelsea after travelling up from London[/caption]
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the BBC is not acting impartially and was “caving in” to Tory MPs by telling Lineker to step back from Match of the Day.
He accused the government of blaming “anybody else” rather than “accepting that they’ve broken the asylum system”.
Some BBC commentators did take to the airwaves yesterday, though they admitted it was a tough decision.
Ian Dennis worked on the Leeds v Brighton game for Radio 5 Live at 3pm, while Alistair Bruce-Ball was set to follow suit for the late game between Crystal Palace and Manchester City.
Ex-footballer Chris Sutton also decided he was going to work on 606 before BBC bosses scrapped the show anyway.
GettyLabour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the BBC is not acting impartially and was ‘caving in’ to Tory MPs[/caption]
A source said a number of staff see a distinction between BBC radio and television. They added: “Some feel they have been backed into a corner by the raft of withdrawals and have been placed into a very difficult position.”
The situation has also affected freelancers, who rely on BBC contracts. Lineker posted his tweet criticising the Home Office last Tuesday, and the BBC finally caved into pressure on Friday evening.
It said in a statement: “The BBC has been in extensive discussions with Gary and his team in recent days. 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.”
Pic-me-ups with fans
Lineker brushed off his suspension by snapping selfies with fans at his hometown club LeicesterRex
ReutersA Man City fan at the Crystal Palace match held a sign, right, saying, ‘Gary Lineker for Prime Minister’[/caption]
LINEKER brushed off his suspension by snapping selfies with fans at his hometown club Leicester.
He and son Angus, 25, saw The Foxes lose 3-1 to Chelsea after travelling up from London.
Back in the capital, a Man City fan at the Crystal Palace match held a sign, right, saying, “Gary Lineker for Prime Minister”.
TV rivals moving in
LINEKER could triple his £1.35million earnings by jumping ship to ITV.
Insiders say the station have long been keen to poach the star who, if he went, would be free to share his political views.
BT Sport, which is to rebrand as TNT Sports, are also said to be interested in Lineker. A source said: “He’s in demand.”
Slim love for Gary
FATBOY Slim used a projection of Gary Lineker last night during a gig in Manchester to show his support.
Twitter / @FatboySlimFatboy Slim used a projection of Gary Lineker last night during a gig in Manchester to show his support[/caption]
The DJ, real name Norman Cook, later tweeted: “I’m with Gary”.
Meanwhile, social media jokers put up brutal memes to mock the BBC row.
One parody had PM Rishi Sunak on a bus asking an OAP to host Match of the Day.
One parody had PM Rishi Sunak on a bus asking an OAP to host Match of the Day