Alan Shearer apologises to fans for missing Match of the Day following Gary Lineker row
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Alan Shearer has issued a public apology on BBC One before Manchester City’s game against Burnley in the FA Cup.
The England and Newcastle United legend took time at the start of the show to pass comment on the recent row involving Gary Lineker and the BBC after comments the Match of the Day host made on Twitter about the UK government, specifically the Illegal Migration Bill currently passing through Parliament under Rishi Sunak's leadership.
As the show commenced, Shearer said: “I just need to clear up – I wanted to say how upset we were that all the audiences who missed out on last weekend.
“It was a really difficult situation for everyone concerned
“Through no fault of their own some people in TV and in radio were put in an impossible position and that wasn’t fair, so it’s good to get back to some sort of normality and be talking about football again.”
“I echo those sentiments” Lineker replied.
Last week saw the regular English football round-up show take place with no commentators or presenters because of the fall-out.
Lineker made his return to screens this evening as part of the presenting team for Match of the Day Live coverage of Manchester City’s FA Cup quarter-final tie against Burnley.
He had found himself at the centre of a row over free speech and BBC impartiality after tweeting criticism of Rishi Sunak’s government, specifically referencing the Illegal Migration Bill, comparing it to ‘1930s Germany’.
The BBC stood Lineker down after his comments, leading many of his fellow presenters and pundits to refuse to appear in solidarity with the former England striker.
Shearer, Ian Wright, Alex Scott, and Jason Muhammad were among those who took last week away from Match of the Day, Final Score, and Football Focus.
In the end, the weekend’s two Premier League round-up shows were broadcast as shortened highlights packages over 20 minutes with no commentary or studio team.
After the story rumbled on for a few days, the BBC eventually released a statement confirming that Lineker would be returning to MOTD, apologising to him directly and noting it had been a ‘difficult period for staff, contributors, presenters and, most importantly, our audiences.’
It also announced an independent review on social media usage by BBC staff and impartiality.
The statement from BBC Director General Tim Davie – who ran as a Conservative council candidate in the 1990s and was the chairman of a Conservative Party association – read: “The potential confusion caused by the grey areas of the BBC’s social media guidance that was introduced in 2020 is recognised.
“I want to get matters resolved and our sport content back on air.
“Impartiality is important to the BBC. It is also important to the public.
“The BBC has a commitment to impartiality in its Charter and a commitment to freedom of expression.
“That is a difficult balancing act to get right where people are subject to different contracts and on-air positions, and with different audience and social media profiles.
“The BBC’s social media guidance is designed to help manage these sometimes difficult challenges and I am aware there is a need to ensure that the guidance is up to this task. It should be clear, proportionate, and appropriate.
“Accordingly, we are announcing a review led by an independent expert – reporting to the BBC – on its existing social media guidance, with a particular focus on how it applies to freelancers outside news and current affairs.
“The BBC and myself are aware that Gary is in favour of such a review.
“Shortly, the BBC will announce who will conduct that review.
“Whilst this work is undertaken, the BBC’s current social media guidance remains in place.
“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.”
Lineker released his own statement that read: “I am glad that we have found a way forward. I support this review and look forward to getting back on air.”
He continued over on Twitter: "After a surreal few days, I’m delighted that we have navigated a way through this. I want to thank you all for the incredible support, particularly my colleagues at BBC Sport, for the remarkable show of solidarity. Football is a team game but their backing was overwhelming.
"I have been presenting sport on the BBC for almost 3 decades and am immeasurably proud to work with the best and fairest broadcaster in the world. I cannot wait to get back in the MOTD chair on Saturday.
"A final thought: however difficult the last few days have been, it simply doesn’t compare to having to flee your home from persecution or war to seek refuge in a land far away. It’s heart-warming to have seen the empathy towards their plight from so many of you.
"We remain a country of predominantly tolerant, welcoming and generous people. Thank you."