Gary Lineker – storm in a crisp packet. Why it is time for the BBC to move on from Gary Lineker, and for Lineker to move on from football.
The fallout from that Lineker tweet has engulfed football presentation on the BBC. After Gary Lineker was dropped from Match of the Day all his clique followed him by walking out of Radio Five Live and BBC football shows. It is as if they have come together as a team, surrounded the referee and demanded VAR.
Lineker’s “Nazi tweet” was, in my view, inept, inappropriate and wildly inaccurate. But I would defend his right to express his view, however offensive, and not apologise to the BBC. However, the issue is not so black and white.
The BBC should clarify exactly what it wants from their contract with him. If they allow him to speak independently then they should defend him when he does this. The BBC should be standing up to the government pressure whatever it decides. At the moment it looks like a poodle. If the BBC wants Lineker muzzled then allow him to walk away from the BBC, since he is unlikely to agree to such a contract.
Whether the BBC back down or dismiss Lineker they will be damned. There is a long list of examples of BBC people (e.g. Alan Sugar) who also publicly shared political views but nothing has happened. And the recent controversy regarding BBC links and meekness to the Conservative party. So it does look hypocritical to single out Lineker.
Lineker seems to like playing the alter ego to himself. Look at his crisp adverts. He likes to play to the gallery by calling himself ‘just that bloke on the football show’. But every time he mouths off on Twitter it causes it’s own storm. He is hugely influential, whatever we think and he knows it. But is it just a media storm – I suspect many will be bored by it and Twitter. And some football fans who may not like being associated with his Nazi reference.
Lineker has made a ‘nothing to lose’ calculation. This may be his Hancock moment. If, as it looks likely, he leaves the BBC, he may choose to exploit his celebratory status and follow Matt Hancock on to “Get me out of here I’m a Celebratory.” It will not be the last we hear from him.
The BBC had their moment to just say he was talking bollocks and should stick to football. And then move on. In football terms he may be offside but he is not interfering with play. But, as the “Nazi tweet” issue has now exploded beyond all comprehension and engulfed the BBC maybe it is time for the BBC to move on from him, and bring in commentators that will let the football do the talking and allow the BBC to get on with its job.