‘Civil war’ at BBC Sports
The Gary Lineker row has plunged the BBC into a civil war between talent and management over whether bosses were right to apologise to the Match of the Day star for taking him off the air over his Nazi slur.
Staff at the BBC are understood to be split, after the ex-England footballer was reinstated following a backlash over a tweet comparing the Government’s migrant crackdown to Nazi Germany.
Lineker will return to TV screens to present live coverage of the FA Cup quarter-final between Manchester City and Burnley on Saturday after a weekend of mutinous chaos in which fellow pundits and presenters walked out in solidarity.
Director General, Tim Davie, said he had taken ‘proportionate action’ over Lineker’s controversial tweet, and insisted he had not backed down in the row.
the climbdown will lead to a ‘free for all’ of presenters and reporters testing impartiality rules by expressing their political opinions online, while a review into the Corporation’s social media guidelines is conducted, The Telegraph reports.
The corporation has said it is commissioning an independent review of its social media guidelines, particularly for freelancers, but this could take months.
Despite their high profile and the fact most of them were due to cover sports for the BBC at the weekend, these stars – who collectively earn more than £1,589,994 – all refused to work in solidarity with Gary Lineker.
Lee Anderson, deputy chairman of the Conservatives, described the BBC as ‘spineless’ over its handling of the issue.
He said: “In football, no player is bigger than the club, but Lineker has shown he is bigger than the BBC.”
A senior BBC source also told The Telegraph: ‘One would hope he (Lineker) has heard and taken very carefully on board the damage that he has done.
“This has not come to an end, but I think that Tim Davie has come through it so far in one piece. It has been a violent business.”
Meanwhile, BBC stars are said to have taken the corporation’s decision to allow Lineker to return as a ‘victory’ and a sign that management is now weakened.
An employee said: “The BBC blinked first. You can feel the power draining away.”
It comes as insiders have disclosed a ‘huge rift’ in the BBC Sport department, with some outraged by the way the debacle played out and a snap poll seen by Sportsmail revealing overwhelming contempt for bosses.