One week after the BBC’s schedule of sport was severely disrupted with a boycott by staff in support of anchorman Gary Lineker, both the host and fellow pundits were all back on screen this weekend. 

Lineker didn’t take his usual position as host of Match of the Day on Saturday evening, but stand-in presenter Mark Chapman was quick to tell viewers this was an arrangement that had been scheduled “weeks ago.”

Meanwhile, Lineker was in action at lunchtime, introducing BBC coverage of the FA Cup quarter-final between Manchester City and Burnley. His fellow pundit Alan Shearer addressed the issue that took them all off the previous weekend. 

“I just need to clear up and wanted to say how upset we were that all the audiences who missed out on last weekend,” Shearer said. “It was a really difficult situation for everyone concerned and through no fault of their own, some really great people in TV and in radio were put in an impossible situation and that wasn’t fair.

“So it’s good to get back to some sort of normality and be talking about football again.”

Lineker added, “Absolutely, I echo those sentiments.”

This follows a tumultuous week for the BBC, during which time the director-general Tim Davie flew back from Washington DC to negotiate the return to screen of Lineker, the BBC’s most highly paid presenter.

Lineker had previously been suspended for sharing a tweet, in which he commented negatively on the government’s immigration policy. Several BBC presenters and other staff walked out in solidarity. 

Davie apologised this week for the “difficult period”, while announcing an independent review of the corporation’s social media guidelines.

Caroline Frost

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