Soccer great Gary Lineker reinstated as BBC presenter

Match Of The Day host Gary Lineker will continue as a BBC presenter after the corporation apologised for a "difficult period for staff, contributors, presenters, and most importantly, our audiences".

The rapprochement has been greeted with approval by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

A host of sports presenters and pundits pulled out of BBC shows at the weekend after the former England striker was told to step back from hosting the show in a row over impartiality.

The 62-year-old was taken off air for a tweet comparing the language used to launch a new government asylum seeker policy with 1930s Germany.

The BBC's director-general Tim Davie has now confirmed Lineker will continue as the host of Match Of The Day and announced an independent review of social media guidelines at the corporation, particularly for freelancers, which Lineker is.

He said: "Everyone recognises this has been a difficult period for staff, contributors, presenters and, most importantly, our audiences. I apologise for this.

"The potential confusion caused by the grey areas of the BBC's social media guidance that was introduced in 2020 is recognised. I want to get matters resolved and our sport content back on air."

In a short statement, Lineker said: "I am glad that we have found a way forward. I support this review and look forward to getting back on air."

The former Everton, Tottenham and Barcelona striker 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."

He added: "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're pleased that this situation has been resolved, and that fans will be able to watch Match of the Day as normal this weekend," a spokesperson for Sunak told reporters.

"We were disappointed to see that language being used, but ultimately it's a matter between him and the BBC."

Davie said Lineker "will abide by the editorial guidelines" until a review of the BBC's social media policy is complete.

Football coverage on BBC TV and radio shows was hit across the weekend as fellow pundits, presenters and reporters - including Alan Shearer, Ian Wright and Alex Scott - walked out in solidarity with Lineker.

The flagship Match of the Day highlights show, a staple of British Saturday night television since the 1960s, went ahead in a heavily truncated form. While highlights were shown of the day's Premier League matches there was no theme tune, no presenter, no punditry and no commentary.

The show was reduced to 20 minutes long - it is usually an hour or more. Sunday's highlights show was produced in a similar vein but lasted only 15 minutes.

The Royal National Institute of Blind People criticised the broadcaster for its lack of accessibility stating: "The BBC needs to do better....their decision not to include commentary on Match of the Day is unacceptable."