Alan Shearer says last week was ‘difficult’ as Gary Lineker returns to the BBC

Gary Lineker has returned to present live on the BBC as part of the channel’s coverage of the FA Cup Quarter Final between Manchester City and Burnley.

The 62-year-old was told to withdraw from hosting the Match Of The Day (MOTD) over a tweet comparing the language used to introduce a new government asylum seeker policy to 1930s Germany.

He was joined by Alan Shearer – who said last weekend was “really difficult” – and a former fellow English footballer-turned-pundit Micah Richards on Saturday.

Shearer reflected on this after he and his BBC Sport colleagues walked with Lineker in “Solidarity”, which featured highlight shows that were noticeably shorter than usual and aired with no presentation or commentary.

The 52-year-old said: “I just have to clean up and wanted to say how mad we were (at) all the viewers who missed last weekend.

“It was a really difficult situation for everyone involved – and through no fault of their own, some really great people on TV and radio were put in an impossible situation and it wasn’t fair.

“So it’s good to get back to some kind of normality and talk about football again.”

Lineker then said, “Absolutely, (I) repeat (those) feelings.”

The former England striker previously said it was “great to be here”.

Before going on the air, Lineker posted a photo of himself at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester and told his Twitter followers: “Ah, the joys of sticking with football.”

He was also seen greeting former journalist and Labor spindoctor Alastair Campbell, who is a Burnley supporter and hosts The Rest Is Politics – which is produced by Lineker’s company Goalhanger Podcasts.

Gary Lineker speaks to Alastair Campbell upon his arrival at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester (Danny Lawson/PA)

Later in the evening, broadcaster Mark Chapman will host the MOTD highlights show – which aired for just 20 minutes last weekend with no accompanying commentary or analysis from presenters.

The Sunday edition also had a similar format and ran for just 15 minutes.

On Monday, BBC chief executive Tim Davie said in a statement the company had commissioned an independent review of its social media policies, particularly for freelancers.

Mr Davie apologized for what he conceded was “a difficult time for staff, contributors, presenters and most importantly our audience” and described the BBC’s commitment to freedom of expression and impartiality as a “difficult balancing act”.

He added: “The potential confusion caused by the gray areas of the BBC’s social media guidelines, introduced in 2020, is recognised. I want to clear things up and get our sports content back on the air.”

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