Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer enjoyed a fine return to form on their first live BBC broadcast since the former was controversially taken off the air.
Lineker was back as the presenter for the BBC’s live football coverage on Saturday for the FA Cup quarter-final between Manchester City and Burnley.
It was the 62-year-old’s first time back in the punditry chair since the furore surrounding a tweet he made criticising government policy.
Shearer, Ian Wright and numerous other BBC personalities showed solidarity with an emotional Lineker by subsequently stepping down from their own duties, leading to a significantly curbed edition of Match of the Day at 20 minutes with no presenters, pundits or commentators.
The BBC climbed down from their position on Monday, reinstating Lineker, issuing an apology and confirming Manchester City against Burnley as his first game back.
READ MORE: Lineker 1 The BBC 0: the inevitable result of Match of the Day’s desecration
Lineker was joined by Shearer and Micah Richards on his return, saying it was “great to be here” at the Etihad to present the FA Cup quarter-final.
“Yeah, it’s good,” replied Shearer.
“I just need to clear up and wanted to say how upset we were that all the audiences missed out last weekend,” he continued.
“It was a really difficult situation for everyone concerned and through no fault of their own some really great people in TV and in radio were put in an impossible situation and that wasn’t fair.
“So it’s good to get back to some sort of normality and be talking about football again.”
Before heading into pre-match analysis of the game, Lineker added: “Absolutely. I echo those sentiments.”
Shortly before the broadcast, Lineker made a pointed tweet from the studio:
Ah the joys of being allowed to stick to football. pic.twitter.com/E2JME7teDs
— Gary Lineker 💙💛 (@GaryLineker) March 18, 2023
Lineker will subsequently not be on duty for Match of the Day on Saturday evening, with Mark Chapman instead presenting the Premier League highlights alongside former Wales international Ashley Williams.
Welcoming the news of his return earlier this week, Lineker said he was ‘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,’ he added. ‘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.
‘We remain a country of predominantly tolerant, welcoming and generous people. Thank you.’