Gary Lineker and pundit Alan Shearer returned to TV screens to present live coverage of the FA Cup quarter-final on Saturday.

They opened the show with an apology to fans who missed out on last weekend’s Match Of The Day, which aired for only 20 minutes.

Mr Lineker, the BBCs’s highest-paid presenter, had been asked to step back when he compared language used to launch a new Government asylum seeker policy with 1930s Germany in a tweet.

Fellow presenters, pundits and reporters including Mr Shearer walked out in “solidarity” with the 62 year old.

At the start of the coverage on Saturday Mr Shearer, 52: “I just need to clear up and wanted to say how upset we were (to) all the audiences who 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 TV and in radio 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.”

Mr Lineker added: “Absolutely, echo those sentiments.’

Ahead of the game between Manchester City and Burnley, Mr Lineker shared a picture of himself in a BBC studio.

At the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, he told his Twitter followers: “Ah the joys of being allowed to stick to football.”

He then posted another picture with former England footballers turned pundits Mr Shearer and Micah Richards calling them “teammates” as they got ready to go live on-air.

BBC Radio 5 Live presenter Mark Chapman is due to host the MOTD highlights on Saturday.

Many of Mr Lineker’s BBC Sport colleagues walked out in support last weekend, with highlight shows significantly shorter than usual, without commentary or analysis from presenters. Sunday’s edition followed a similar format and ran for 15 minutes.

BBC director-general Tim Davie said in a statement the corporation had commissioned an independent review of its social media guidelines, particularly for freelancers.

Mr Davie apologised for what he acknowledged had been “a difficult period for staff, contributors, presenters and, most importantly, our audiences” 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 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.”

After the official BBC statement was published, Mr Lineker tweeted that he was “delighted” to have navigated a way through the row after a “surreal few days”.

He added: “I have been presenting sport on the BBC for almost three decades and am immeasurably proud to work with the best and fairest broadcaster in the world. I cannot wait to get back in the MOTD chair on Saturday.”

Additional reporting by Press Association

2023-03-18T18:57:52Z dg43tfdfdgfd