The score appears to be “Lineker 1 – BBC credibility nil,” as Sir Craig Oliver, a former news executive at the BBC and Downing Street communications chief, has put it

After a weekend of turmoil at the BBC, Gary Lineker is set to return to our screens once again this coming Saturday as a Match of the Day host. 

The 62-year-old Golden Boot winner took to the bird app once again this morning to compose a victory post, insisting he was “delighted that we have navigated a way through this” and “cannot wait to get back in the MOTD chair.”

Lineker thanked his supporters and colleagues at BBC Sport “for the remarkable show of solidarity” after what he described as a “surreal few days.” Though he was quick to add that “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.”

He also praised the beleaguered British Broadcasting Corporation, insisting he was  “immeasurably proud to work with the best and fairest broadcaster in the world,” and spared a gracious word for BBC Director General Tim Davie, who took the initial decision to pull him from air, following his controversial tweets about the government’s immigration plans. Lineker thanked Davie for his “understanding during this difficult period,” acknowledging that he “has an almost impossible job keeping everybody happy, particularly in the area of impartiality”.

Not everyone has been so understanding towards the BBC chief, criticising him for the botched handling of the sorry affair. Chaos ensued when numerous BBC staff pulled out of weekend sport programmes in solidarity with Lineker, causing shows to be cancelled. 

Davie has refused to admit that bringing Lineker back is a U-turn – rather, the initial decision to pull him off air was always about buying some time until they could come to an agreement over his political tweets. He has also insisted that he wasn’t originally caving to Tory pressure.

As for those raging that a star working for the supposedly impartial BBC can get away with comparing government policy to 1930s Germany, Davie is trying to appease them by launching an independent review into the BBC’s social media guidelines as part of the deal to get Lineker back on air. It will focus on how BBC rules apply to freelancers working outside news – like Lineker. 

Launching a review may have cooled the situation for now, though its findings could stir up trouble further down the line. The BBC muddle on impartiality is far from resolved. 

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