Director Tim Davie is in the UK to end the end crisis with star pundit Gary Lineker

Director Tim Davie is in the UK to end the end crisis with star pundit Gary Lineker

Gary Lineker is set to return to BBC TV this weekend without any further punishment, following anti-Tory tweets. The footballer turned broadcaster is expected to receive an apology for being taken off air.

This marks a significant victory for Lineker, the BBC’s highest-paid star on £1.35 million a year.

In an extraordinary capitulation, Director General Tim Davie has secured a deal with Lineker so he can present FA Cup coverage this weekend.

The row over Lineker’s tweets saw Match of the Day and Match of the Day 2 cut down to short shows without presenters, pundits, commentators or its famous theme tune.

On-screen talent, including former England strikers Alan Shearer and Ian Wright, refused to appear in ‘solidarity’ with Lineker.

To end the dispute, the BBC is expected to be forced into launching a review of its guidelines on impartiality for freelance presenters like Lineker.

Until today, Lineker had refused to be drawn on his future as he walked his dog in southwest London yesterday.

‘Ambiguities’ in the presenter’s contract meant the corporation cannot force him to follow its rules, which prohibit staff members from making political comments.

Lawyers are said to have advised the BBC could not sack him without a multi-million pound pay-off. The BBC is said to have offered ‘a horrible review fudge’ of its social media guidelines, according to The Times.

Tim Davie’s own future could be in doubt after he has been criticised for his handling of the affair.

The BBC is currently due to broadcast two of the four FA Cup fixtures this weekend, including the much-anticipated tie between Premier League side Brighton and giant-killing minnows Grimsby Town, but disruption to its football coverage since Friday has thrown this into doubt.

Mr Lineker is due to present one of those shows, not the Match of the Day highlights programme this weekend, according to reports.

A BBC spokesman said: ‘We are working hard on a resolution and hope to have him back with us as soon as possible.’ A BBC source told The Telegraph things are ‘moving quickly’, adding: ‘Tim Davie has been clear that he wants to resolve the situation and see the MOTD presenter back on air.

Gary and his representatives have been in talks for a number of days, and these are ongoing.’

Senior bosses at the BBC are said to fear they cannot sack the former England striker nor force him to follow a social media policy, due to ambiguities in his contract.

Instead, senior officials believe they would be forced to pay millions if they were to sack Lineker and are likely to lose any legal claim he could subsequently bring.

Lineker is said to be on a 24-month contract negotiated prior to Davie’s arrival. Despite Davie repeatedly emphasising the importance of impartiality, Lineker’s contract was not updated. Meanwhile, presenters, pundits, and commentators have refused to appear in an act of solidarity.

Match of the Day 2 last night aired without a presenter and lasted only 14 minutes. An apology was made to viewers prior to the show.

A continuity announcer said: ‘Now on BBC One, sorry we’re not able to show our normal Match Of The Day 2 including commentary tonight, but here’s the best action from today’s Premier League matches.’

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