Match of the Day: ‘Great to be here’, says Lineker as he makes TV return

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Gary Lineker has returned to presenting BBC football coverage for the first time since last week’s impartiality row, saying it’s “great to be here”.

Co-host Alan Shearer said it had been a “really difficult situation for everyone concerned” as he welcomed Lineker back.

“It’s good to get back to some sort of normality,” he added.

Lineker was taken off air following a critical tweet on the government’s asylum policy.

Last Saturday’s Match of the Day was broadcast without presenters or commentary and was only 20 minutes long after many of Lineker’s BBC Sport colleagues, including Shearer, walked out in “solidarity”.

On Monday the BBC said it would launch an independent review of its social media guidelines, particularly for freelancers – but Lineker could return in the meantime.

At the start of the BBC’s live coverage of Manchester City v Burnley in the FA Cup on Saturday evening, Shearer said: “I just need to clear up and wanted to say how upset we were that all the audiences who missed out on last weekend.

“It was 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.

“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.”

Last week, BBC director general Tim Davie apologised for what he acknowledged had been “a difficult period” for staff, presenters and audiences. He described the BBC’s commitment to freedom of expression and impartiality as a “difficult balancing act”.