BBC's climbdown is a ‘5-0 win’ for Gary Lineker after its 'ridiculous' stance on his migration tweets, former chief says

13 March 2023, 18:34 | Updated: 13 March 2023, 20:23

Greg Dyke said he thinks the decision to remove Gary Lineker from presenting was 'ridiculous'
Greg Dyke said he thinks the decision to remove Gary Lineker from presenting was 'ridiculous'. Picture: LBC/Getty
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

The BBC's climbdown in the row over Gary Lineker's controversial tweets on the government's new immigration bill is a "like a 5-0 win" for ex-footballer, former BBC director general Greg Dyke has told LBC.

It was announced on Monday morning that Mr Lineker is to return to presenting sport after he was taken off air for tweets that compared the government's language on migration to that used in 1930s Germany.

The BBC also issued an apology to viewers and to presenters, and announced a review of its social media policy in an extraordinary climbdown this morning.

Commenting on the news that Gary Lineker will continue to host Match of the Day, former BBC boss Mr Dyke told LBC's Tonight with Andrew Marr: "Firstly, I think I'd say today's announcement is like a 5-0 win for Gary Lineker, really.

"Or maybe 5-1. But I mean, as I understand it, this was the very solution that was offered to the BBC on Friday and they turned it down, now they've accepted it…I think the public at large saw it as ridiculous.

"The idea that because a sports presenter has said something about politics, that's not on the BBC and not on the programme he presents, he cannot present the programme, I think people saw it as ridiculous. And I think it was."

Greg Dyke: 'Today's announcement is like a 5-0 win for Gary Lineker'

Read More: 'Delighted' Gary Lineker tweets about migrants as he gets his job back - with BBC forced to issue grovelling apology

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Mr Dyke also said that it looks like the BBC has been "bullied" into climbing down in the row, which would be "very bad news for the BBC" if the public sees it the same way.

He said: "In this case, I think the perception out there, the perception amongst the public is exactly what you said. That it looks like the government has bullied the BBC into taking this decision.

"Now, whether that's true or not I have no idea. But if that's the perception, it's very bad news for the BBC."

Gary Lineker will be presenting Match of the Day again this weekend
Gary Lineker will be presenting Match of the Day again this weekend. Picture: Getty

As for the ongoing row over the current BBC Chairman Richard Sharp, who is under pressure over his alleged role in helping to facilitate an £800,000 loan for ex-PM Boris Johnson, Mr Dyke said he does not think he should resign.

But he did say that the UK is "now in a world where they shouldn't be appointed by the government of the day".

Mr Dyke continued: "I’m not sure I do think he should go. I suspect over the weekend he rang up the Director General and said, get us out of this. What is this? Because suddenly it has turned back on to the Richard Sharp story.

"I hope there's an opportunity in this inquiry to look at the whole way that the Chairman and the governors get appointed at the BBC.

"Because I think we're now in a world where they shouldn't be appointed by the government of the day."

After it was announced he would return to Match of the Day, Mr Lineker said: "I am glad that we have found a way forward. I support this review and look forward to getting back on air."

Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker
Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker. Picture: Getty

Lineker added 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 heartwarming 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."