Chris Evans discusses Gary Lineker contract situation amid BBC row
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Manchester United hero Gary Neville has mocked the BBC for apologising in the aftermath of the chaos caused when Gary Lineker was asked to temporarily step down from his Match of the Day presenting duties at the weekend. Lineker and the BBC were involved in a stand off after the ex-England striker had taken to Twitter to accuse the Home Office of using “language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s.”
On Monday morning, the BBC confirmed that Lineker would be returning to television screens ahead of this weekend’s FA Cup quarter-final matches. And BBC Director-General Tim Davie said: “Everyone recognises this has been a difficult period for staff, contributors, presenters and, most importantly, our audiences. I apologise for this.
“Impartiality is important to the BBC. It is also important to the public. The BBC has a commitment to impartiality in its Charter and a commitment to freedom of expression. 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.”
Following the announcement Neville appeared gobsmacked as he took to Twitter to write, ‘Apology,” alongside two emojis of laughing faces. And when one of his followers told him “one of the bravest things you can do in life is apologise,” Neville replied: “You think this lot would apologise if they didn’t have to.
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“They took on football and got beat up again. I’m talking about the government who are at the heart of all this nonsense. They wanted to silence someone who is damaging them on a daily basis.”
Neville then retweeted a post from Byline Times political editor Adam Bienkov, which said: “Sounds like a big U-turn coming from the BBC. Surely Davie and [Richard] Sharp can’t survive this debacle.” And Neville also retweeted an interview with Sir Kier Starmer in which the Labour leader described Sharp’s position as “increasingly untenable.”
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Lineker’s absence over the weekend thrust the BBC into bedlam as Match of the Day was screened as a 20-minute highlights show without any commentary or punditry after Football Focus and Final Score had already been cancelled. But on Monday morning, Lineker confirmed he would be back as he 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.”
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