'The joys of being allowed to stick to football' – Gary Lineker back on the BBC for FA Cup clash

By Sports Desk March 18, 2023

Gary Lineker was back on the BBC on Saturday as the former England striker returned with a teasing dig at his critics.

Lineker, the 1986 World Cup Golden Boot winner, was not involved in last week's edition of Match of the Day after becoming involved in a political row following a Twitter post in which he criticised the UK government's immigration policy.

The BBC asked Lineker to step back from hosting the popular football show, which led to a number of commentators and pundits, including Ian Wright and Alan Shearer, refusing to take part.

A much-trimmed version of the show was broadcast on Saturday and Sunday, only showing highlights of the weekend's Premier League games with no analysis or commentary.

On Monday, it was announced the BBC would review its social media policy and confirmed former Tottenham and Barcelona striker Lineker would return to work.

As a result, he presented Saturday's coverage of the FA Cup tie between Manchester City and Burnley.

In a Twitter message posted before coverage began, Lineker wrote: "Ah the joys of being allowed to stick to football."

That was a clear retort to members of the public, media and politicians who have claimed Lineker should not delve into politics.

Lineker also acknowledged his gratitude to those who backed him last week, posting a picture that showed him sitting alongside pundits Shearer and Micah Richards, with the caption: "Teammates."

At the top of the show, Lineker passed to Shearer, who told viewers: "I just need to clear up and wanted to say how upset we were that all the audiences missed out on last weekend.

"It was a really difficult situation for everyone concerned and through no fault of their own some really great people in radio and TV were put in an impossible situation and that wasn't fair, so it's good to get back to some sort of normality and be talking about football again."

Lineker added: "Absolutely echo those sentiments."

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