Talks between the BBC and Gary Lineker are moving “in the right direction” after the broadcaster’s sports coverage was disrupted over the weekend, the company reports.
There is “hope for a speedy resolution, but not all issues are ‘fully resolved’ at this stage,” according to BBC News.
Football coverage on BBC TV and radio shows was a hit all weekend as pundits walked out in “solidarity” with Lineker after the former England player was told to stop presenting Match Of The Day when he compared the language used to a . New government asylum seekers policy with 1930s Germany.
Match Of The Day only aired for 20 minutes on Saturday with no accompanying commentary or analysis from presenters, and the Sunday edition is 15 minutes long.
Coverage of the Women’s Super League match between Chelsea and Manchester United was also broadcast with no pre-match presentation and world feed commentary instead of regular BBC presenters.
For the second day, Radio 5 Live also replaced some of its usual live sports coverage with pre-recorded content such as the Sport’s Strangest Crimes podcast.
The station did provide match commentary for the two scheduled Premier League games on Sunday afternoon, but commentator Alistair Bruce-Ball admitted it had been a “very difficult decision” to go on air.
Ahead of the Fulham game against Arsenal, Bruce-Ball said: “It’s been a very difficult decision to make personally – I can assure you it hasn’t been taken lightly – but I’m a BBC staffer, I’m a radio commentator for this station and, just like yesterday, we are here to provide our football service to you, our audience.
Former BBC director-general Mark Thompson told the BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg that he “definitely hopes” and “believes” that current director-general Tim Davie will survive the impartiality spat over Lineker.
When asked by Kuenssberg if he thinks the presenter will be back on the air on Sunday evening, he replied: “I hope so.”
Former BBC director Peter Salmon, who was previously controller of BBC One and director of sports, told Kuenssberg the situation is “complex” and that Lineker is an “important figure”.
He described the disruption to the BBC’s sports program as a “mess”, adding: “Tim Davie is isolated in some ways; he needs to come home and get this on now. We need him again to lead the ship .’
Lineker told reporters he “can’t say anything” as they questioned him about the future of his presenting career as he left his home in Barnes, southwest London, to walk his dog on a Sunday morning.
One of the questions he was confronted with was whether he had spoken to Mr. Davie overnight, but he did not answer.
The football presenter spent his Saturday afternoon supporting his home club Leicester City as they played against Chelsea.
Mr Davie has apologized for disrupting the sports schedule this weekend but said in an interview with BBC News in Washington, DC on Saturday that he will not resign.
BBC chairman Richard Sharp is also under increasing pressure to resign as the company’s policy of impartiality is called into question.
Mr Sharp, who was appointed chairman in February 2021, is embroiled in a cronyism as he has helped former Prime Minister Boris Johnson secure an £800,000 loan in recent months.
His appointment is under investigation, but he is now coming under fresh scrutiny, with both Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves and Shadow Culture Secretary Lucy Powell questioning Mr Sharp’s position in light of the Lineker quarrel.
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey also called for the chairman to resign, saying his position is “totally untenable”.
The BBC faces a strike on Wednesday, when up to 1,000 journalists are expected to leave on the same day Chancellor Jeremy Hunt presents his spring budget.