A petition started by fans of Match of the Day has been signed nearly 200,000 times by football fans, calling on the BBC to re-instate Lineker as the host of the famous football show.
Gary Lineker has been suspended from the BBC due to a tweet which criticised the government’s new asylum policy, comparing it to Nazi Germany.
The fallout from this has seen his fellow presenters step back from presenting the show, with potential replacements also standing in solidarity with Lineker by removing themselves from contention.
Fans are desperate for Gary Lineker to return as Match of the Day presenter. (Alamy)Currently, almost 200,000 people have signed a petition to call on him being reinstated, as at the time of writing, 179,513 people have put their names back to bring Lineker back.
The petition reads: ‘Gary Lineker has been forced to step back from presenting Match of the Day after tweeting critically about the government’s migrant policy.’
‘As a freelance sports presenter, Mr Lineker should be able to share his personal views on current affairs.
‘Many other BBC faces have posted controversial opinions on social media without sanction.’
The petition also adds that The Mirror, who created the petition, believes Lineker ‘should be able to return to our screens as soon as possible’.
One of the people who signed the petition wrote: ‘A disgraceful decision and an assault on freedom of speech.’
Another fan said: ‘Gary Lineker should not be silenced and the BBC should be ashamed of themselves.’
A BBC spokesperson said:
“The BBC has been in extensive discussions with Gary and his team in recent days. We have said that we consider his recent social media activity to be a breach of our guidelines.
“The BBC has decided that he will step back from presenting Match Of The Day until we’ve got an agreed and clear position on his use of social media.
“When it comes to leading our football and sports coverage, Gary is second to none.
“We have never said that Gary should be an opinion-free zone, or that he can’t have a view on issues that matter to him, but we have said that he should keep well away from taking sides on party political issues or political controversies.”