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Gary Lineker shares image in BBC studio as he returns to football coverage

Gary Lineker has shared a picture of himself in a BBC studio ahead of returning to present live coverage of the FA Cup quarter-final between Manchester City and Burnley.

The 62-year-old broadcaster was taken off air last week by the corporation for a tweet comparing the language used to launch a new Government asylum seeker policy with 1930s Germany in a row over impartiality.

On Saturday, the 62-year-old broadcaster posted a photo of himself at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester and 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 Alan Shearer and Micah Richards calling them “teammates” as they are set to give on-air analysis on the game.

Ahead of his first appearance on the BBC since he was told to step back from hosting Match Of The Day (MOTD) last week, he told LaLiga Sports TV on Friday it had been “really quiet” before adding he is “still here, still punching”.

The former England striker also said: “It was totally disproportionate the whole thing, but we’re OK. It’s resolved, I’m relieved.”

Gary Lineker file photo
Gary Lineker will present live football coverage for the BBC on Saturday (Ian Walton/PA)

Later this evening, Mark Chapman is due to host the MOTD highlights.

Many of Lineker’s BBC Sport colleagues walked out in “solidarity” last weekend, with highlight shows significantly shorter than usual and aired without presentation or commentary.

MOTD aired for only 20 minutes last Saturday without accompanying commentary or analysis from presenters, with Sunday’s edition following a similar format and running for just 15 minutes.

BBC director-general Tim Davie said in a statement the corporation has 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”.

Tim Davie
BBC director-general Tim Davie (Peter Byrne/PA)

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, 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.”