Gary Lineker ‘will never apologise, never back down’ in BBC row – but WILL return to Match Of The Day, says son George
GARY Lineker will “never apologise” or back down amid his migrant tweet row with the BBC, his son says.
But George, 31, stressed his dad is open to a return to the Beeb after being pulled off Match Of The Day for comparing the Government’s Illegal Migration Bill to “1930s Germany”.
The pundit’s suspension sparked chaos on Saturday – with Match Of The Day going ahead without presenters, pundits or commentators.
The show ran for just 20-minutes as the carnage-engulfed BBC limped to get the show on-air without even playing the theme tune.
Speaking to the Sunday Mirror, Gary’s eldest praised his dad as a “good man” who stands by his word.
He added: “That’s why he was pulled off the show – because he wouldn’t apologise.
“To take him off the air for having a voice is harsh, and I think he was surprised, and a bit disappointed.”
George went on to address whether his dad will return to the BBC, as it was reported broadcasters are queuing up to poach the veteran presenter.
He explained: “Will he go back to Match of the Day? I think so – he loves Match of the Day. But he won’t ever back down on his word.”
George noted Gary’s passion for standing up for those without a voice, pointing to the ex-England star’s decision to host two refugees at his home.
The pundit sparked a free speech row when he responded to a video on Twitter of Home Secretary Suella Braverman as she presented the Government’s small boats plan.
The legislation will see migrants swiftly detained and removed to either their country of origin or a safe third state within 28 days.
Sharing the clip, Mr Lineker said: “Good heavens, this is beyond awful.”
Responding to another user who described him as “out of order”, he added: “We take far fewer refugees than other major European countries.
“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?”
‘BREACH OF OUR GUIDELINES’
The BBC said the pundit’s comments on Twitter were a “breach of our guidelines”.
Mr Lineker was later asked to step back from presenting Match Of The Day – which he’s done since 1999 – until a “clear position” on his social media use is agreed.
It comes as ex-tennis pro and LBC presenter Andrew Castle claimed Gary admitted on Thursday his comments were “a step too far”.
Mr Castle told his LBC show today: “I was with Gary Lineker for half a day, plus, on Thursday, I was working with him.
“I said to him, that I thought to draw the parallels between, you know, the rise of Nazism in the 30s and early 30s government and the immigration policy of a serving Conservative Party was a step too far and he agreed.”
In a statement after suspending the veteran broadcaster, the BBC said they had undergone “extensive discussions” with the ex-England star, 62, following the furore.
While the Beeb praised his sports coverage as “second to none” they said he should “keep well away from taking sides” on party political topics.
The decision sparked chaos at the BBC as Match Of The Day’s commentators, pundits and presenters all refused to go on air in solidarity with Mr Lineker.
Ian Wright, Alan Shearer, Jermaine Jenas, Alex Scott, Mark Chapman and Micah Richards all refused to fill in amid a growing staff mutiny.
Football Focus, Final Score, the Fighting Talk podcast and 5Live’s 606 football phone in were all canned as well as a staff uprising sent schedules into meltdown.
It is unclear whether Match Of The Day 2 – which airs on Sunday – will go ahead.
We made decisions and I made decisions based on a real passion about what the BBC is and it’s difficult
Tim Davie, BBC Director General
The Sun on Sunday understands BBC boss Tim Davie is now locked in a standoff with Mr Lineker, who refuses to back down amid a row over his controversial tweets.
Crisis-engulfed Davie told the BBC on Saturday he would “absolutely not” quit amid a fallout that has bought the corporation to its knees.
Mr Davie described the unfolding disaster as a “difficult day” and apologised for the disruption to BBC sports programming.
Asked if he was sorry about the way he handled the furore, he told the BBC on Saturday: “We made decisions and I made decisions based on a real passion about what the BBC is and it’s difficult.”
He insisted the row is about impartiality.
As his employer fought fires on all fronts – Mr Lineker today took time out to watch his beloved Leicester City in action at the King Power Stadium against Chelsea.
The ex-England star was pictured watching the Foxes alongside one of his sons – and appeared all smiles despite his side losing 3-1.
The crisis reached its peak late on Saturday when Prime Minister Rishi Sunak waded into the row, saying the presenter’s suspension is an issue for the BBC, not him.
Mr Sunak said the chaos was “rightly a matter” for the BBC, not the Government.
He added that while he respected “not everyone will always agree” with Government policies, he praised Mr Lineker for being a “great footballer and talented presenter”.
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