Gary Lineker’s future on Match of the Day uncertain after tweet controversy

Gary shared a cryptic Twitter post yesterday...

Gary Lineker is back on Match of the Day after the BBC asked him to “step back” over a controversial tweet. But could he exit the show permanently?

PR specialist Lewis James from Liberty Marketing exclusively told ED! that he thinks Gary could still leave Match of the Day.

He added that the BBC “should be worried” about Gary going elsewhere – and taking fans with him.

Gary Lineker smiles on Match of the Day
Gary Lineker was asked to ‘step back’ from Match of the Day earlier this month (Credit: BBC)

Gary Lineker to leave Match of the Day?

Former footballer Gary Lineker was at the centre of a controversy earlier this month. It came when he compared the government’s immigration policies to “1930s Germany”.

It led to the BBC asking Gary to “step back” from presenting Match of the Day. Many fellow football pundits refused to feature on the show in solidarity.

It led to a major disruption to BBC football programming, and Gary was eventually reinstated.

The BBC has confirmed an independent review will look into social media guidance for BBC staff.

The BBC should be worried about him leaving.

But until that review is published, does Gary feel like he can tweet freely?

Well, PR expert Lewis James told us that it’s likely he doesn’t.

Lewis said: “I would imagine that given the unprecedented backlash we all saw him get, and the unquestionable disruption it would have had to his life and the lives of his family members, that Gary Lineker will sadly think twice before speaking openly on issues that are of importance to him again.

“We’ve seen in the past day or so that his passion for accountability still remains to a degree but with more cryptic tweets around lying perhaps being directed towards members (or former) of the current government. It definitely indicates a reluctance to share what he really feels outright,” he claimed.

Gary shared a cryptic post on his Twitter yesterday (March 21). It read: “When folk constantly tell fibs, it’s really difficult to know when they’re telling the truth. I imagine it’s even a challenge for themselves.”

Gary did say in a statement about the BBC earlier this month that he was “glad that we have found a way forward”. He also added: “I support this review.”

Gary Lineker at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards 2022
Gary Lineker presented at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards in 2022 (Credit: BBC)

Fans ‘wouldn’t blame’ Gary for leaving

Lewis said that because of Gary’s “damaged” relationship with the BBC, it is possible that he will leave Match of the Day – for good this time.

Lewis shared: “Match of the Day is a British sporting institution. Financial benefits aside, spearheading something so culturally significant for so long like Gary has will be a very tough thing to leave for its emotional ties.

“That being said, his broadcasting affiliations don’t stop with the BBC.”

He went on to allege: “With the relationship undoubtedly damaged, it’s quite possible that he could up sticks with his fanbase. I would imagine very few would blame him for doing so.”

BBC ‘doesn’t value Gary’ as much as it should

Lewis also urged the BBC to do “anything it can” to avoid a repeat of the Match of the Day scandal.

He added: “The way in which the BBC dealt with the tweet situation kind of suggests it doesn’t value Gary as much as it probably should.

“Which is crazy given how synonymous he is with sports broadcasting and television in general.

“The BBC definitely should be worried about him leaving and should be doing everything it can to assure him that his ability to comment freely on issues of geo-political importance doesn’t come under pressure again,” he said.

A representative for Gary Lineker declined to comment.

A representative for the BBC referred ED! to Director-General Tim Davies’ statement.

Shared on March 13, part of it read: “Gary is a valued part of the BBC and I know how much the BBC means to Gary. I look forward to him presenting our coverage this coming weekend.”

Read more: Inside Gary Lineker controversy: From presenter’s tweets to BBC Match of the Day crisis

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