Gary Lineker has been taken off air by the BBC for the second time in the space of nine days after the presenter pulled out of hosting their FA Cup coverage on Sunday. Lineker had only agreed to return to the BBC on Monday after he was removed from his duties by the BBC following a tweet about the Government’s immigration policy, but he will now be replaced by Alex Scott for Manchester United’s tie with Fulham.
Lineker did not present Match of the Day on Saturday evening after the programme returned to its normal scheduling, with Mark Chapman deputising instead. That was a planned absence, however, with the 61-year-old brought back into the fold for Sunday’s FA Cup tie.
However, the BBC have now confirmed that Lineker will also skip his presenting duties on Sunday afternoon after suffering with illness.
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.”
It comes just days after BBC caved to public pressure to reinstate Lineker after an unprecedented level of support saw dozens of pundits, presenters and commentators refuse to appear on their sports programmes in solidarity with the former England striker.
Lineker had 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, with the BBC announcing he had been taken off air on March 9.
The likes of Alan Shearer and Ian Wright joined Lineker in boycotting their Match of the Day duties, with several others figures following suit across the public service broadcaster.
Ironically, Scott also lended her support to Lineker as the broadcaster scrambled to find a host willing to replace him and indicated she would not take the job if offered to her. When it became apparent that they would struggle to put on the show as normal, a 20-minute highlights package was shown instead with no commentary.
After receiving widespread criticism over Lineker’s forced absence, the BBC issued an apology to the presenter after holding talks last weekend, with Lineker responding: “I am glad that we have found a way forward. I support this review and look forward to getting back on air.”
He later went on to expand on social media: “After a surreal few days, I’m delighted that we have navigated a way through this. I want to thank you all for the incredible support, particularly my colleagues at BBC Sport, for the remarkable show of solidarity. Football is a team game but their backing was overwhelming.
“I have been presenting sport on the BBC for almost 3 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.
“A final thought: however difficult the last few days have been, it simply doesn’t compare to having to flee your home from persecution or war to seek refuge in a land far away. It’s heartwarming to have seen the empathy towards their plight from so many of you.”
Lineker agreed to return to his role as presenter for Match of the Day’s FA Cup coverage, although he will now miss due to his current condition – meaning his highly-anticipated return to the big screen will be delayed for now at least.