Gary Lineker won’t “go back on his word”, according to his son

Gary Lineker’s son has said he believes the sports presenter will return to Match Of The Day – but that he will not “go back on his word”, according to reports.

In an interview with The Sunday Mirror, the former England international’s eldest son George claimed his father was “a bit disappointed” with the BBC asking him to step down from hosting Saturday’s Match Of The Day (MOTD) after he compared the language used in launching a new government policy for asylum seekers with 1930s Germany in a tweet.

But he said Lineker had been “overwhelmed with support” from news colleagues who had quit various BBC sports shows in solidarity with him, particularly his MOTD co-presenters Ian Wright and Alan Shearer.

George Lineker told The Sunday Mirror: “Dad is a good man, a good man and I’m proud of him for keeping his word. That’s why he was pulled from the show – because he wasn’t apologizing. But he will always speak for people who have no voice.

“He is passionate about helping refugee charities – he took in two refugees who he is still in touch with and tries to help.

“It means a lot to him to stand up for people whose only hope is to escape a country with only the clothes on their backs. That’s why he was so steadfast.

“Will he return to Match of the Day? I think so – he likes Match of the Day. But he will never go back on his word.”

Saturday’s Match Of The Day was only shown for 20 minutes and did not feature accompanying commentary or expert analysis or even its famous theme music – instead only short highlights of the day’s matches were broadcast.

Before the show began, a follow-up announcer said: “Now on BBC One, we’re sorry we can’t show our normal Match Of The Day, including commentary tonight. But here is now the best action from today’s Premier League games.”

Several of the broadcaster’s other football shows were axed at the last minute on Saturday as more presenters and reporters pulled out, with neither Football Focus nor Final Score airing – while 5 Live’s radio coverage changed dramatically during the day.

The BBC director-general apologized for the disruption to the broadcaster’s sports program but confirmed he would not be resigning over Lineker’s impartiality.

Tim Davie told BBC News in Washington, DC on Saturday: “I am very sorry for today’s disruption. It’s been a difficult day and I’m sorry that the public has been affected and missed the schedule.

“As a sports fan, I know as well as anyone that losing programming is a real blow and I’m sorry about that.

“We are working very hard to resolve the situation and make sure we get back on the air.”

The general manager said he would not go into much detail about the discussions that took place, but that “everyone wants to resolve the situation calmly.”

“I would say that Gary Lineker is an excellent broadcaster. He is the best in the business, that is not up for debate,” he added.

“To be clear, success for me is: Gary is back on the air and together we give the audience that world-class sports coverage that, as I say, I’m sorry we didn’t get to deliver today.”

Mr Davie also said he did not believe it was a “left or right” policy, but about the company’s ability to balance free speech and impartiality, adding: “We are staunch defenders of democratic dialogue, free speech, but that’s what it comes with. the need to create an impartial organization”.

Asked if he would stand down as “there are a lot of people in the UK who just don’t trust you”, Mr Davie said: “Absolutely not.

“I think my job is to serve license fee payers and deliver a BBC that is really focused on world-class, impartial landmark production – and I’m looking forward to resolving that situation and I’m looking forward to delivering that.”

A recent YouGov poll said 53% of the British public believed the BBC was wrong to suspend Lineker from Match Of The Day after his comments about the government’s asylum policy.

The figures also found that 27% thought the broadcaster was right to suspend him – while 20% did not know.

On Saturday, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said in a statement that the controversy surrounding Lineker and the BBC was “their issue, not the government’s”, as he acknowledged that “not everyone will always agree” with his new asylum policy.

Mr Davie was also asked by the BBC’s Nomia Iqbal about BBC chairman Richard Sharpe, who has faced growing calls to step down over the row he caused when he helped Boris Johnson secure an £800,000 loan facility .

Reflecting on why Mr Sharp still had a job, he said: “As for the chairman, I have a lot of responsibility in this job for thousands of people, one thing I don’t do is appoint as chairman.

“The way the board is recruited and that role is different from my editorial role of running the BBC, making those decisions, trying to be fair and have a BBC that is truly impartial.”

The broadcaster’s Sunday sports schedule remains on air with Match Of The Day 2 also in doubt after footballer Jermain Defoe announced he would not be appearing.

The former England striker tweeted on Saturday: “Always a privilege to work with BBC MOTD. But tomorrow I made the decision to resign from my duties. @GaryLineker.”

Further doubts arose as sports broadcaster Mark Chapman, who is due to present Match Of The Day 2, was a no-show on BBC Radio 5 Live Sport on Saturday.

Gabby Logan is also set to host live coverage from 2.15pm as Scotland play Ireland at Murrayfield for the Rugby Six Nations.

The Welsh presenter has yet to comment on whether or not she will host the show.

The Women’s Football Show is also scheduled to air from 11.45pm for more than 40 minutes, but could also be affected by the BBC only broadcasting a “limited sporting programme” this weekend.

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