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10th Mar 2023

The real reason why Gary Lineker has been taken off air has been revealed

Charlie Herbert

The real reason Gary Lineker has been removed from Match of the Day

The BBC claimed he had ‘stepped back’

The reason Gary Lineker has been removed from his hosting role on Match of the Day has been revealed, suggesting the move was not quite as simple as the BBC may have implied.

On Friday, the BBC announced Lineker would be “stepping back” from his role on the football highlights programme following comments he made regarding the Home Office’s policy on small boat Channel crossings.

In a statement announcing the decision to remove Lineker from Match of the Day, the BBC said it considered Lineker’s recent social media activity to be a “breach of our guidelines”.

The corporation added he should “keep well away from taking sides on party political issues or political controversies”.

In the statement released on Friday regarding his Match of the Day hosting duties, the BBC said it had been in “extensive discussions with Gary and team in recent days” and “has decided that he will step back from presenting Match of the Day until we’ve got an agreed and clear position on his use of social media”.

It continued: “When it comes to leading our football and sports coverage, Gary is second to none.

“We have never said that Gary should be an opinion free zone, or that he can’t have a view on issues that matter to him, but we have said that he should keep well away from taking sides on party political issues or political controversies.”

Since the story broke though, Sky News has reported that the BBC statement is “incorrect” and that Lineker has not in fact “stepped back.”

They report that Lineker has actually been taken off air for refusing to apologise for his comments.

This would suggest that the decision to remove him from his role came from the BBC, as opposed to a decision from Lineker to ‘step back.’

This is further backed up by the fact that, after the initial fallout earlier this week – which was sparked when Lineker compared the Home Office’s policy on small boat Channel crossings to “Germany in the 30s” -, the former footballer said he was “very much looking forward” to hosting the football highlights show on Saturday.

Lineker had tweeted on Thursday: “Well, it’s been an interesting couple of days. Happy that this ridiculously out of proportion story seems to be abating and very much looking forward to presenting

@BBCMOTD on Saturday.”

He went on to thank people for their “incredible support” which he described as “overwhelming.”

It can be safely assumed Lineker will not be hosting Match of the Day tomorrow, and following the confirmation of the BBC’s decision, his fellow MOTD pundit Ian Wright said he would not be appearing on the show.

The former Crystal Palace and Arsenal striker said he had made the decision as a show of “solidarity” with Lineker.

It is not yet clear who will replace Lineker on tomorrow night’s edition of the show.

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