BBC crisis | 

Eamon Dunphy calls for Gary Lineker to return to Match of the Day

Pundit impressed by solidarity with presenter and doesn’t believe he could sit on a sports panel in the current climate

​Eamon Dunphy. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Niamh HoranSunday Independent

Eamon Dunphy has warned the BBC that they need to “back off rapidly” in their controversial dispute with football presenter Gary Lineker.

The popular Match of the Day presenter was suspended by the broadcaster after a tweet in which he compared language in the British government’s new immigration Bill to 1930s Nazi Germany.

The BBC was forced to apologise to fans after a mass exodus of presenters, pundits and commentators in support of Lineker led to hours of football coverage being cancelled.

“I think the thing the BBC should worry about is the solidarity of other people who know and work with Lineker,” said Dunphy.

“The solidarity they’ve shown is extraordinary. The very fact is that the BBC’s entire soccer output yesterday had gone off air — every single element — the results, everything, nobody was prepared to work.”

The colourful pundit, who hosts the popular podcast The Last Stand added that he doesn’t believe he would have experienced the same widespread support if he had landed in similar hot water.

“If I got in to trouble with RTE on this kind of issue the last person I would expect to show solidarity would be George f**king Hamilton.”

Dunphy also said that he doesn’t believe he could sit on a sports panel in the current climate.

“Not a chance. If I had said the things I had said about Platini and Ronaldo and Jack Charlton? Not a chance, not a hope. Cancel culture makes people safe. Well, look at what they have out there now!”

The journalist went on to say that Lineker should be reinstated even though he has “stepped on a landmine.”

“I think he should get his job back but he should also be aware that he has responsibilities. I mean I was only talking about 4-4-2. He is talking about f**king Nazis.”

Asked what he would say if the BBC called and asked him to stand in for the star he replied: “I’d say ‘listen guys, if you think Gary Lineker was bad, wait ‘til you have me on your books!”

Meanwhile asked if any star is bigger than the show they work on he said: “Yeah of course! In this case it isn’t the show he is bigger than, it’s the BBC. He is probably in the driving seat because other broadcasters would want him and his €1.5m salary is nothing to them so he has got the power.

"The trouble is they (the BBC) may take revenge - as bureaucrats tend to do on the people who have shown solidarity. People whose names we wouldn’t even know. Not Alan Shearer or Ian Wright, but the production people.”

On the tweet itself Dunphy said the reason he has difficulty with it is because it was “a stupid thing to say.”

“If you start to compare nasty right wing Tories to the Nazis in Germany then what would you ever do if there really ever is fascism on the rise in the UK and that’s the problem. He went way over the top. It was a stupid thing to say because it simply it isn’t true.”

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