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15th Mar 2023

Gary Lineker takes subtle dig at the BBC with his new Twitter profile picture

Charlie Herbert

Gary Lineker makes point with new Twitter profile pic

The Match of the Day star included a quote from outside the BBC HQ

Gary Lineker appears to be making a point to BBC management with his new Twitter profile picture after the broadcaster decided to reinstate him as Match of the Day host.

On Monday, the BBC announced Lineker would be back for the broadcaster’s coverage of the FA Cup this weekend, with General Director Tim Davie apologising to the former footballer and the public for the disruption to the BBC’s football coverage over the weekend.

The sage started after Lineker compared the government’s new policy on immigration to “Germany in the 30s,” which the BBC believed breached impartiality guidelines.

Now, the former footballer has seemingly taken a dig at BBC management with his new profile picture on Twitter, appearing to make a point about the importance of free speech, particularly at the BBC.

In the picture, Lineker is standing next to an inscription emblazoned next to the statue of George Orwell outside the BBC headquarters.

The words, which featured in an unpublished preface to Orwell’s Animal Farm, read: “If liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

The edited picture shows Lineker next to the George Orwell statue and quote, which is located outside the BBC’s headquarters (Twitter/Cold War Steve)
The George Orwell statue outside the BBC, pictured here in 2019 with an Extinction Rebellion flag (Getty)

The picture is taken from a larger image created by Cold War Steve (@coldwarsteve) on Twitter.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman announced last week that anyone arriving in the country on a small boat across the Channel would not be allowed to stay in the UK.

The former England striker described the policy as “beyond awful,” before replying to someone else: “This is just an immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s, and I’m out of order?”

After he refused to make an apologetic statement regarding his comments, the BBC made the decision to remove him from Match of the Day.

Following the announcement, a slew of Match of the Day pundits and football journalists across the BBC pulled out of their duties on Saturday.

Lineker has made the image his profile picture on Twitter

As a result, the broadcaster’s football coverage over the weekend was severely disrupted.

The BBC has since reinstated Lineker as the MOTD host and apologised to the former England striker for the saga. Director General Tim Davie admitted there are “grey areas” in the corporations social media guidelines.

Davie said: “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.”

In a statement, Davie also announced the BBC will launch an independent review into its social media guidelines, with a particular focus on freelancers outside news and current affairs like Lineker.

He continued: “Everyone recognises this has been a difficult period for staff, contributors, presenters and, most importantly, our audiences. I apologise for this.”

Davie also admitted there were “grey areas of the BBC’s social media guidance” that was introduced in 2020, adding he wants to “get matters resolved and our sport content back on air”.

He added that impartiality is “important to the BBC and the public as a whole, noting the corporation has a “commitment to impartiality in its Charter and a commitment to freedom of expression”.

The saga has also sparked debate around the level of influence the Tory government has over the corporation.

The BBC’s chair Richard Sharp is currently under investigation for his role in helping Boris Johnson secure a huge loan while he was Prime Minister.

Some have also questioned why Lineker has been pulled up for his comments when the same treatment was seemingly never applied to the likes of Alan Sugar and Andrew Neil.

Related links:

Nigel Farage accuses Gary Lineker of spreading hate

Gary Lineker makes defiant statement on small boat Channel crossings as BBC return confirmed

ITV prepared to ‘triple’ Gary Lineker’s wages to lure him away from the BBC