Gary Lineker 'knows he's in the wrong but won't apologise' says friend

Gary Lineker ‘knows he’s in the wrong but won’t apologise’ says friend – as Match of the Day begins without iconic music, titles, pundits or commentators in shortened 20-minute format

  • Gary Lineker was asked to stand down following controversial ‘Nazi’ tweet 
  • BBC’s Saturday coverage was left in tatters with several shows cancelled 
  • Follow live coverage of all the fallout as BBC pundits stand with Gary Lineker

Gary Lineker thought his ‘Nazi’ jibe tweet against the government’s asylum policy was a ‘step too far’ but the row had already ‘gone too far’ for an apology, one of his colleagues admitted.

Ex-tennis pro Andrew Castle said he was working with the Match Of The Day host on Thursday when Lineker made the confession. 

Match Of The Day started this evening with a brief note from the BBC that they were ‘sorry that we are unable to show matches without commentary’, before highlights began without the usual iconic music and titles.

Fans were left baffled that there was none of Match Of The Day’s usual iconic titles or music to start the show.

Castle said on his LBC show on Friday: ‘I was with Gary Lineker for half a day, plus, on Thursday, I was working with him. His phone was going absolutely mad.

‘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. And he said so. He’s alluded to that. 

Gary Lineker (pictured today) thought his ‘Nazi’ jibe tweet against the government’s asylum policy was a ‘step too far’ but the row had already ‘gone too far’ for an apology, one of his colleagues admitted

The BBC’s Director-General Tim Davie (pictured) has refused to resign over the chaos caused after Gary Lineker was axed from Match Of The Day

Davie told the BBC’s Nomia Iqbal: ‘I’m sorry audiences have been affected and they haven’t got the programming’

Match of the Day will last just 20 minutes tonight with no Gary Lineker, no commentary and no pundits following a day of chaos for the BBC

Tim Davie apologised for today’s sports scheduling mayhem but said the corporation was ‘working very hard to resolve this situation’

This is the tweet that caused the BBC to force Lineker off Match Of The Day, which in turn has led to mass walkouts at the corporation, throwing the weekend’s schedule of programmes into chaos

‘If he was to apologise, then fine I suspect he could go back on air but it’s gone a little bit too far for that.’ 

Match Of The Day aired this evening with no pundits, commentators or interviews with players and managers started tonight after mass walkouts left the programme gutted of its usual format.

The show is set to last just 20 minutes following a day of chaos for the BBC as big-name stars walked out in protest alongside host Gary Lineker, leaving the broadcaster having to cancel most of its football coverage.

The BBC’s Director-General has also refused to resign over the chaos caused after Gary Lineker was axed from Match Of The Day and said the football host is ‘the best’ and he wants him ‘back on air’.

Tim Davie apologised for today’s sports scheduling mayhem but said the corporation was ‘working very hard to resolve this situation’ and he would ‘absolutely not’ resign.

Davie told the BBC: ‘Gary Lineker is a superb broadcaster. He’s the best in the business. He’s an outstanding, brilliant broadcaster and success for me is that Gary gets back on air.’

Asked whether he should resign, Davie said: ‘Absolutely not. I think my job is to serve licence fee payers and deliver a BBC that is really focused on world class, impartial, landmark output.’ 

He added: ‘I’m sorry audiences have been affected and they haven’t got the programming. 

Fans were baffled that there was none of Match Of The Day’s usual iconic titles or music to start the show

‘As a keen sports fan I know to miss programming is a real blow and I’m sorry about that. We are working very hard to resolve this situation and make sure we get output on air.

‘Everyone wants to calmly resolve the situation. Gary Lineker’s the best in the business – that’s not for debate.’

Davie remained adamant he will not resign as a result of the Linekergate chaos.

Mr Davie also said that he does not feel this is about ‘left or right’ politics, but about the corporation’s ability to balance free speech and impartiality, adding: ‘We’re fierce champions of democratic debate, free speech, but with that comes the need to create an impartial organisation.’ 

This evening Lineker’s son George said while his father may return to the flagship football programme, he would not apologise. 

He told the Mirror: ‘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 said Gary wouldn’t be watching the show tonight and would instead have a ‘cottage pie’. 

The BBC was forced to apologise following the carnage that saw last minute changes to this weekend’s sporting schedule, saying it was ‘working hard to resolve the situation and hope to do so soon’.

Sportsmail understands that the BBC were even forced to consider dropping tonight’s Match of the Day programme due to not being able to secure alternative television commentary after its own commentators boycotted. 

However, the Corporation quickly moved to ease fears by insisting the flagship football show will still go ahead with viewers forced to watch quickfire highlights from today’s six Premier League games without any commentary. 

Sunday’s Match of the Day 2 is also in jeopardy after pundit Jermain Defoe announced he would not appear on the show. 

Leicester fan Gary Lineker was at the King Power Stadium to watch his boyhood club host Chelsea. He cheered after Chelsea’s goal was disallowed following a VAR review

The former England star was pictured taking selfies with fans after being taken off air by BBC bosses

Lineker took photos with two kids prior to Leicester’s match against Chelsea at the King Power 

Leicester City fans held up signs in support of  Lineker in the stands before the match at the King Power Stadium

Swansea City fans also held up a sign in support of the Match of the Day presenter during the Championship side’s clash with Middlesbrough

Earlier today, Football Focus and Final Score were hurriedly replaced by old episodes of Bargain Hunt and The Repair Shop after hosts Alex Scott, Kelly Somers, and Jason Mohammad all refused to take to the airwaves in solidarity with the former England star. 

BBC Radio 5 Live’s schedule has also been wrecked today. Chief saturday football presenter Mark Chapman pulled out of broadcasting alongside Colin Murray, and pundit Dion Dublin, forcing the replacement of 5 Live Sport and Fighting Talk with old football podcast episodes.  

To add to the turmoil, Ian Wright – who refused to appear on TV tonight – said: ‘If the BBC get rid of Gary Lineker, I’m out, I’m gone.’

Ex-director-general Greg Dyke said the Corporation had blundered in ordering the ex-footballer off the show, adding: ‘I suspect this is the end of Gary Lineker as a BBC presenter’.

The BBC’s radio and TV timetables have been disrupted as a host of pundits pulled out of shows in ‘solidarity’ after Lineker was told to step back from hosting Match of the Day in a row over impartiality.

In a statement, a BBC spokesperson said: ‘The BBC will only be able to bring limited sport programming this weekend and our schedules will be updated to reflect that.

‘We are sorry for these changes which we recognise will be disappointing for BBC sport fans.

Lineker was spotted in the director’s box as he watched Leicester fall to a 3-1 defeat to Chelsea at the King Power Stadium

Seeing red: Leicester City’s Wout Faes was shown a red card by referee Andre Marriner during the defeat

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has supported Lineker, saying he didn’t understand why there had to be a ‘s***storm’ after the MOTD host’s ‘Nazi’ jibe tweet 

‘We are working hard to resolve the situation and hope to do so soon.’

Lineker watched Leicester lose 3-1 to Chelsea today, while the row over his ‘Nazi’ jibe tweet rumbled on.

The beloved MOTD host has been backed by his fellow presenters and sports stars.

Speaking after his side’s 1-0 loss to Bournemouth, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said: ‘I’m not native but I cannot see why you would ask someone to step back for saying that.

‘Everybody wants to be so concerned about doing things in the right manner, saying the right stuff.

‘If you don’t do that then you create a s***storm, it is a really difficult world to live in.

‘If I understand it right, it is a message, an opinion about human rights and that should be possible to say.’

Meanwhile, Broadcasting union Bectu has said the BBC’s handling of the impartiality row with Gary Lineker is ‘hugely disappointing’ and feels it will ‘likely prove disastrous for its reputation’.

Philippa Childs, head of Bectu, said in a statement: ‘Bectu has always been a staunch defender of the BBC, and we are hugely proud of the important work our members do every day.

‘However, the corporation’s handling of this crisis has been hugely disappointing and will likely prove disastrous for its reputation.’

Bectu is calling for an ‘urgent response’ on Linekergate, Sky News reported.

With no need to prepare for MOTD tonight, Lineker was free to head to the King Power Stadium this afternoon for the 3pm match between Leicester and Chelsea

Jon Holmes (right), agent of Gary Lineker arrives at the stadium prior to the Premier League match between Leicester City and Chelsea at the King Power Stadium this afternoon

Gary Lineker was seen outside his London home this morning after fellow presenters and walked out of today’s BBC’s football coverage in a show of solidarity

A leaked email sent to BBC staff has also surfaced on social media showing the Director of Sport Barbara Slater apologising to her team for the continuous chaos which has unravelled at the broadcaster this afternoon.

She thanked staff for their hard work and professionalism despite many boycotting their responsibilities this afternoon in solidarity with Lineker. Slater said that the BBC ‘understood how unsettling this is for all of you’.

The BBC has reportedly told staff there will be a series of meetings on Monday so they can ‘have their say’ about the fiasco. 

On Saturday evening Rishi Sunak urged ‘talented’ Gary Lineker and the BBC to resolve their dispute as he defended the government’s controversial immigration bill.

The PM said the row surrounding Gary Lineker and the BBC is ‘a matter for them, not the Government’ as he acknowledged ‘not everyone will always agree’ with his new asylum policy.

Commenting for the first time since the BBC stood Lineker down from Match Of The Day hosting duties, the Prime Minister said he hopes the dispute can be ‘resolved in a timely manner’.

He said: ‘Gary Lineker was a great footballer and is a talented presenter. I hope that the current situation between Gary Lineker and the BBC can be resolved in a timely manner, but it is rightly a matter for them, not the Government.

‘While that process is ongoing, it is important that we maintain perspective, particularly given the seriousness of the issue at hand. Forty-five thousand people crossed the channel illegally last year, many of whom have been exploited or trafficked by criminal gangs, putting their lives in danger.

‘We need to break this cycle of misery once and for all and the policy we set out this week I believe aims to do just that. It is not only the fair and moral thing to do, it is also the compassionate thing to do.

‘There are no easy answers to solving this problem, but I believe leadership is about taking the tough decisions to fix problems. I know not everyone will always agree, but I do believe this is fair and right.’

Amid the fiasco, Ian Dennis still took to the air waves to commentate over Leeds’ clash with Brighton on Radio 5 Live at 3pm.

Opening the commentary, Dennis said: ‘It’s a very difficult time for BBC sport and for those that work in the department and we all hope that that gets resolved.

‘Personally, I have found today very difficult, but I am a BBC staff member, I am a radio commentator for BBC Radio 5 Live. And today, like every Saturday afternoon, we provide a service to you, the audience.’

Earlier, in pulling out of today’s scheduled programming, Football Focus host Alex Scott Tweeted that broadcasting the show today ‘just doesn’t feel right.’

She wrote: ‘I made a decision last night that even though I love doing football focus and we have had an incredible week winning an SJA award that it just doesn’t feel right going ahead with the show today. Hopefully I will be back in the chair next week…’

MOTD2 host Mark Chapman pulled out of Radio 5 Live Sport, while Alex Scott boycotted Football Focus 

Former Tottenham Hotspur player Jermain Defoe said he would not appear on Match Of The Day 2 on Sunday evening

Somers, who was tipped to replace Scott for the lunchtime programme, also said: ‘Just to confirm I won’t be on BBC television today.’ 

Adding to the chaos, Final Score host Jason Mohammad then tweeted that he would also take part in the mass walk-out. The Welsh presenter wrote: ‘As you know, Final Score is a TV show very close to my heart.

‘I have this morning informed the BBC that I will not be presenting the show this afternoon on BBC One.’

READ MORE: What did Gary Lineker say? Match of the Day presenter’s ‘Nazi’ asylum seeker policy tweet that sparked row with BBC



Jermain Defoe, who was due to appear on Match of the Day 2 tomorrow night, also tweeted: ‘It’s always such a privilege to work with BBC MOTD. But tomorrow I have taken the decision to stand down from my punditry duties. @GaryLineker.’ 

Colin Murray and his team also walked out of scheduled programming today.  He said: ‘No Fighting Talk today, for obvious reasons. In the interest of transparency, this was a decision taken by the entire FT team and myself. Bob Mills was still up for it, to be fair ;).’ 

Football pundit Dion Dublin said ‘No 5live for me today’ as a mark of solidarity with BBC Sport colleagues.

At 12pm, when 5 Live’s football coverage was due to start, the broadcast was instead replaced by old episodes of the Footballer’s Football Podcast with Ricky Haywood-Williams, Michail Antonio and Callum Wilson.

Furious sports fans, who have been deprived of a Saturday afternoon of BBC coverage, have reacted by venting on social media. 

One user said: ‘BBC has just pulled Radio 5 Live Sport. This is ridiculous, hysterical, an omnishambles. [Tim] Davie must resign’.

A second added: ‘So we don’t get any Radio 5 Live commentary or build up to today’s game? Sack the ‘f***** lot of em’.

Meanwhile, a third complained: ‘@BBC ur pulling all these sports shows – can I have a partial refund on my @tvlicensing’. And a fourth added: ‘Lots of focus on the TV shows, but for many people it’s Radio 5 where they listen to sport on a Saturday afternoon. 

‘Usually at this time it’d be news from the grounds, team updates etc. But instead it’s prerecorded podcasts as stars & workers walk out. Catastrophe for BBC sport.’


Furious sports fans have vented on social media after being deprived of a Saturday afternoon of BBC coverage as the Corporation was forced to axe several shows

Director of Sport Barbara Slater apologised to her team for the chaos across the BBC this weekend

With fans turning to Sky Sports’ Soccer Saturday for live football updates, host Jeff Stelling left viewers in stitches as he joked about having to be on form today of all days.

The long-time host, who has shown support for Lineker, quipped: ‘I need to be right at the top of my game today because there’s a top-notch football presenter available on Saturdays now!’

Despite the turmoil across other programming, this evening’s Match of the Day will still go ahead but in bizarre circumstances.

It comes as the Premier League informed clubs that players and managers would be stood down from their post-match Match of the Day and BBC TV commitments during a chaotic Friday night.

This presenter shake-up is the latest in a string of walk-outs since the BBC’s much-debated call to suspend Lineker.

Lineker’s colleagues Ian Wright and Alan Shearer were among the first to confirm they would not be appearing on this evening’s broadcast on Match of the Day.

Arsenal legend Ian Wright said last night: ‘Everybody knows what Match of the Day means to me, but I’ve told the BBC I won’t be doing it tomorrow. Solidarity.’

Fighting Talk presenter Colin Murray said he will not appear on Radio 5Live today


Kelly Somers Tweeted that she will not be appearing on the BBC today


Final Score presenter Jason Mohammad said he has informed the BBC that he will not be presenting on BBC One this afternoon

Alan Shearer also announced: ‘I have informed the BBC that I won’t be appearing on MOTD tomorrow night.’  

Alex Scott then followed them in refusing to appear on the flagship football show. She tweeted a short meme which showed US politician Bernie Sanders saying ‘Nah! Not me.’ 

Jermaine Jenas – regarded as an eventual successor to Lineker – said he was not due to be on tonight but would have boycotted the show.

Former Manchester City defender Micah Richards also backed Wright and Shearer’s decision to boycott the BBC show. ‘I was not due to be working on MOTD tomorrow, but if I was, I would find myself taking the same decision that @IanWright0 & @alanshearer have,’ he tweeted.

The BBC announced their plan to host the show without pundits in the wake of this news late last night.

Regular Match of the Day commentator Steve Wilson said he and other talking heads have vowed not to participate in the next programme.

He said: ‘As commentators on MOTD, we have decided to step down from [Saturday] night’s broadcast.

‘We are comforted that football fans who want to watch their teams should still be able to do so, as management can use World Feed commentary if they wish.’

He added: ‘In the circumstances, we do not feel it would be appropriate to take part in the programme.’


The statement was shared by MOTD commentators including Conor McNamara, Robyn Rowen and Steven Wyeth. 

The broadcaster has been thrown into turmoil and must contend not only with decisions over its impartiality position, but a growing void of presenting slots to fill. 

But the BBC’s issue may extend beyond their own employees, with Jurgen Klopp leading a managers and players boycott of the broadcaster this weekend. 

The Premier League has now let those from the 12 clubs playing on Saturday that MOTD will not request post-match interviews with managers or players. 

PFA Spokesperson said on the decision: ‘We have been informed that players involved in today’s games will not be asked to participate in interviews with Match of the Day.

‘The PFA have been speaking to members who wanted to take a collective position and to be able to show their support for those who have chosen not to be part of tonight’s programme.

Will Lineker return to MOTD in the future?

Yes – 4/6 

No – 11/10

*Odds provided by Paddy Power 

‘During those conversations we made clear that, as their union, we would support all members who might face consequences for choosing not to complete their broadcast commitments.

‘This is a common sense decision that ensures players won’t now be put in that position.’

Speaking on the saga to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, former direction-general Greg Dyke said the broadcaster has ‘undermined its own credibility’ by taking Gary Lineker off air.

Greg Dyke, the BBC chief between 2000 and 2004 and a former FA chairman, said the broadcaster was ‘mistaken’ in standing Lineker down.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the precedent at the corporation is that ‘news and current affairs employees are expected to be impartial and not the rest’.

‘If you start applying the rules of news and current affairs to everybody who works for the BBC, where does it end?’, he said.

He added: ‘There is a long-established precedent in the BBC that is, that if you’re an entertainment presenter or you’re a football presenter, then you are not bound by those same (impartiality) rules.

‘The real problem of today is that the BBC has undermined its own credibility by doing this because it looks like – the perception out there – is that the BBC has bowed to Government pressure.

‘And once the BBC does that, then you’re in real problems.

‘The perception out there is going to be that Gary Lineker, a much-loved television presenter, was taken off air after Government pressure on a particular issue.’

Richard Ayre, former controller of editorial policy at the BBC, said the broadcaster’s reputation is ‘bigger and more important’ than any individual, including Lineker.

Mr Ayre told BBC Breakfast on Saturday that there will be ‘real street-to-street fighting’ between political parties in the lead-up to the general election.

The people who joined the BBC boycott in ‘solidarity’ with Gary Lineker 

The BBC’s football coverage on Saturday was ripped up as several more presenters and reporters withdrew in solidarity with Gary Lineker after the Match of the Day presenter was stood down on Friday.

Neither Football Focus or Final Score went ahead on BBC One, while 5 Live’s radio coverage was also radically altered throughout the day.

Former England internationals Alan Shearer and Ian Wright announced on Friday their boycott of this weekend’s Match of the Day programme.

Here are the high-profile presenters and journalists who joined them on Saturday.

Alex Scott

The 38-year-old former Arsenal and England player was due to present Football Focus but said on Saturday morning that it ‘just doesn’t feel right going ahead with the show today’.

Scott has presented The One Show and has worked alongside Lineker in the past as a presenter of the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year programme.

She was also a contestant on one of the corporation’s flagship entertainment shows, Strictly Come Dancing, in 2019.

Kelly Somers

In the wake of Scott’s announcement, Somers was seen as a potential contender to step in and present Football Focus but posted her own message on social media to say she would not be working for the BBC on Saturday.

Somers began her career in Bournemouth’s media team before joining the Premier League.

Since going freelance she has worked for numerous broadcasters, and was the host for the BBC’s coverage of the 2019 Women’s World Cup, and covered England at Euro 2020.

Jason Mohammad

Mohammad, 49, has presented Final Score since 2013.

The Welshman joined BBC Cymru Wales in 1997 and has also worked in rugby and snooker coverage, as well as deputising for Lineker and Mark Chapman on Match of the Day and Match of the Day 2.

Dion Dublin

Former Manchester United, Coventry and Aston Villa player Dublin is a regular on Football Focus, Match of the Day and Final Score.

He was due to be part of 5 Live’s Premier League coverage on Saturday but said he would not appear in ‘solidarity’ with his colleagues.

Dublin, 53, has built a growing media career in recent years, which extends to a presenting role on the BBC’s property show Homes Under The Hammer.

Leon Osman

Like Dublin, former Everton midfielder Osman announced he would not appear on 5 Live’s coverage as planned.

The 41-year-old is a regular pundit on the BBC, BT Sport and Sky Sports.

Colin Murray

It was not only the BBC’s Premier League coverage that was impacted on Saturday as morning talk show Fighting Talk was replaced by two football podcasts.

Murray, a former host of Match of the Day 2 who also works on the broadcaster’s music output, wrote on Twitter the decision was made ‘for obvious reasons’ and that it was taken by ‘the entire FT team and myself’.

Jermain Defoe

The first sign that the boycott will extend beyond Saturday’s coverage came when former England and Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe said he would not appear on Sunday evening’s Match of the Day 2.

‘The BBC, in this time of all times, has to tread as straight a line as it can between the parties and avoid taking sides in its own output, and the BBC believes it also has to ensure that those key people who are identified as the BBC in the public mind also walk a straight line in what they say on their private social network,’ he said.

On Lineker stepping back from presenting Match Of The Day, Mr Ayre continued: ‘It’s a sad occasion for viewers, for anybody who’s interested in football, it will be very sad if they can’t reconcile with Gary.

‘He is superlative, he is absolutely extraordinarily good, not just as a football pundit, of course, but I think, in my 50 or so years of association with the BBC, I’ve never come across such a naturally gifted television presenter.

‘He’s terrific and it will be very sad if he goes, but frankly the BBC and its reputation is bigger and more important than any individual, even Gary.’ 

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