Is Gary Lineker hosting Match of the Day tonight? Latest on BBC presenter return to MOTD after Twitter storm
Gary Lineker was embroiled in one of the most high-profile – and surprising – controversies of 2023 last week when his suspension from the BBC caused widespread disruption and embarrassment for Britain’s national broadcaster.
The former England international was withdrawn from hosting Match Of The Day, the UK’s Premier League highlights show, on March 11 after the BBC investigated a controversial tweet sent by Lineker regarding the UK government’s new immigration law became.
What began as criticism of the Home Office’s announcement of tougher new immigration laws exploded in a debate over the BBC’s impartiality guidelines and the right of television personalities like Lineker to voice personal views.
After several colleagues refused to appear on TV and radio shows in solidarity with Lineker last weekend, the BBC was forced into a hasty reprogramming of its sports programming, which included showing an abridged 20-minute commentary-free highlights package instead of Match Of the day.
In the end, the broadcaster reached an agreement with the former Barcelona and Tottenham striker.
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Is Gary Lineker hosting the match of the day tonight?
Lineker has confirmed he will return to his role as Match Of The Day host, a position he has held since 1999, but he will not be in the hot seat this weekend.
Despite the huge publicity for his comeback, Lineker will skip MOTD hosting duties on March 18 due to a planned crossover with the BBC’s live FA Cup coverage.
The quarter-final game between Manchester City and Burnley will be Lineker’s first appearance since last week’s excitement. With the game starting less than five hours before the MOTD begins, Mark Chapman is expected to host Premier League highlights instead.
This means Lineker is unlikely to host the program again until April 1 after the international break.
Why was Gary Lineker pulled from MOTD duties?
The BBC stayed close to formally suspending Lineker from his Match Of The Day position, and its initial stance confirmed its intention to have a “frank conversation” with the former striker to “remind him of his responsibilities” in relation on the BBC staff impartiality guidelines.
BBC presenters and journalists, in their role as representatives of state broadcasters, are bound by strict rules to maintain a neutral stance on government policy.
However, Lineker’s position as a freelancer created a “grey area” over the rules, with the 62-year-old claiming he was not aware of any such restrictions on his ability to post online.
The BBC has now confirmed its plans to conduct an independent review of social media guidelines in the wake of the Lineker dispute.
When will Alan Shearer and Ian Wright be back on the BBC?
The BBC’s football coverage was thrown into chaos last weekend as colleagues showed solidarity with Lineker by withdrawing from TV and radio broadcasts.
Among the first to show their support for Lineker by refusing to appear as pundits on MOTD were former England forwards and regular Match of the Day co-stars Alan Shearer and Ian Wright.
The former Premier League players both tweeted their decision to support Lineker, with Wright claiming the BBC needed to make major changes because of the incident.
Both Shearer and Wright are expected to rejoin Lineker on April 1st on MOTD. Wright may appear on the show this weekend but Shearer will join Lineker as a pundit for Man City against Burnley.
Broader support for Lineker meant other big names at the BBC including Jermaine Jenas, Alex Scott and Dion Dublin all confirmed they would not be appearing on the show, with Match Of The Day, Match Of The Day 2, BBC Radio 5Live and Women’s Super League coverage was stripped back to basics as commentators and presenters joined the strike.
The Future Of MOTD: Will Match Of The Day Be Cancelled?
The BBC has attempted to implement damage control for the situation, with Lineker reviewing the name of BBC Director-General Tim Davie for his role in reaching a solution.
But the swirling controversy continues, with Premier League chief executive Richard Masters confirming rival broadcasters are considering bids to take over the official British highlights show.
The BBC is reportedly paying £211m ($236m) a year to show Premier League highlights on Saturday nights and Sunday mornings. With the deal up for renewal, it’s expected that rival broadcasters could try to stare at the BBC with a bigger offer.
In 2001, ITV outbid the BBC to become the UK channel of the official Premier League highlights show. That programme, ‘The Premiership’, ran until the end of the 2003/04 season, at which point the BBC regained the rights.