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“We didn’t take it personally”: How a BBC reporter navigated around no interview access following Lineker dispute

Gary Lineker will be back on TV screens up and down the country following an agreement made with the BBC this morning.

On Friday, the BBC announced that Lineker would “step back” from presenting Match of the Day, a programme he has been the face of for over 20 years, until there was an “agreed and clear position on his use of social media.”

This had come after Lineker took to Twitter, a platform in which he has nearly nine million followers on, to express his thoughts after a video of secretary Suella Braverman released plans to stop migrants crossing the Channel on boats.

As Lineker was made to step back from his MOTD duties, both Ian Wright and Alan Shearer also stepped back refusing to appear on the Saturday night show, showing solidarity with their lead presenter.

Solidarity was also displayed from some clubs including Gloucestershire based side Forest Green Rovers who refused to speak to the BBC before and after their home 3-1 loss to Bristol Rovers.

Their decision caused problems for reporters at the Bolt New Lawn in their coverage of the match.

BBC Radio Gloucestershire correspondent and summariser, Josh Evans, felt the affects of this decision.

“Billy Hunt describes the action and I summarise it. He normally leads the interview, but obviously he couldn’t work for anybody else because he is solely BBC Radio Gloucestershire. Where as I could use Gloucestershire Live as a reason to talk to him.

“Because they are there with Radio Gloucestershire they thought the best way to do It would be essentially like a podcast where the reporter says to you the best parts of the press conference, I had to relay that information. It was a bit of a weird one.” Evans added.

The Forest Green reporter said he understood both sides of the dispute and situation.

“It’s not particularly local radio who were involved in it, but at the same time I can understand the decision. We didn’t take it personally, it just allowed us to try and go about it in a different way.

“It was quite an interesting challenge to do, there are other media outlets that are there as well at least someone is always going to speak to them (FGR).”

The news this morning though was that an agreement has been met with the management within the BBC and Lineker.

For BBC reporters and correspondents who are looking to get back to usual the sight of Gary Lineker back on MOTD will be pleasing.

In the past, the presenter has been known to take refugees into his own home and has commented on what a wonderful experience it has been for him. But Lineker was far from pleased with the news from Braverman. 

The latest statement was released this morning as Tim Davie, BBC Director General, said: “Gary is a valued part of the BBC and I know how much the BBC means to Gary, and I look forward to him presenting our coverage this coming weekend.”

Davie also said that there will be a review on the BBC’s existing social media guidance, led by an independent expert reporting to the BBC.

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