Lineker speaks out on being ‘silenced’ as pundit explains BBC absence

Gary Lineker reinstated as presenter as BBC apologises

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Gary Lineker made a light-hearted attempt to explain his absence from the BBC’s FA Cup coverage on Sunday after joking that he has been “silenced”, only this time by illness. The Match of the Day presenter made a cryptic reference to his four-day suspension after being taken off air by the broadcaster last week before making his return on Monday, only to be forced to withdraw from his duties again.

Lineker was due to front the BBC’s coverage of the FA Cup tie between Brighton and Hove Albion and League Two outfit Grimsby on Sunday, having returned to TV screens for Manchester City’s 6-0 rout of Burnley on Saturday along with Alan Shearer and Micah Richards.

But the British broadcaster revealed just hours before kick-off that the 61-year-old would be taken off air again, citing illness as the reason behind his absence. Viewers had noticed that Lineker’s voice was more hoarse than usual during the game on Saturday.

Alex Scott was drafted in to replace Lineker to present their match coverage at the Amex Stadium, and Lineker made a tongue-in-cheek remark aimed at the BBC after confirming why he would not be present for the game.

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A statement from BBC Sport’s Twitter account read: “Due to illness, we’ve got a line-up change for today’s live FA Cup coverage of Brighton v Grimsby on BBC One.

“As viewers will have noticed yesterday, Gary Lineker was struggling with his voice and unfortunately it has deteriorated overnight. Alex Scott will be hosting instead.”

And Lineker, tweeting from his own personal account to his 8.9 million followers, said: “I’ve been silenced…. literally, by a nasty cold so, annoyingly, won’t be working at @OfficialBHAFC this afternoon.”

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Lineker’s comments suggest any bad blood between himself and BBC bosses may have cleared for now after the broadcaster caved with a grovelling apology to the former England striker on Monday.

The BBC took Lineker off air on March 9 after he refused to take down a tweet that compared the Government’s policy on preventing refugees seeking asylum to the principles of Nazi Germany in 1936.

But just days later, amid a swarm of public and colleague support, they caved to public pressure to reinstate Lineker and issued an apology to the veteran, who has presented Match of the Day since 1999.

On Monday, Lineker responded: “I am glad that we have found a way forward. I support this review and look forward to getting back on air.”

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