Lineker Ruled Onside: Reputational Damage and the BBC

15 Mar 2023
   —  by Declan Short

The backlash following Gary Lineker’s step away from Match of the Day, and his subsequent return, highlights the importance of a consistent and reasonable social media policy for employees, and the reputational damage that can occur without clear insight.

The BBC has announced a review into its social media policy following its recent quarrel with former football player and current sports broadcaster Gary Lineker, who tweeted: “There is no huge influx. We take far fewer refugees than other major European countries. This is just an immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s.”

Being subsequently asked to “step back” from his role at the BBC, the position was then unable to be filled, with Alan Shearer, Ian Wright and Alex Scott amongst other presenters refusing to present Match of the Day and offering their support to Lineker. The broadcaster later apologised for this decision after facing backlash online and in parliament.

Most of all, the decision seemed to highlight the inconsistent decisions surrounding who is given a platform on the broadcaster. Many users noted controversial statements made by Jeremy Clarkson and Alan Sugar particularly, noting that the station kept their TV shows regardless of posts made via social media channels.

This inconsistency has caused the broadcaster serious reputational damage, with further reports detailing the relationship between itself and No. 10 and the content it releases, as well as adding to claims of impartiality by BBC chair Richard Sharp who many have called to resign. Dame Melanie Dawes, Chief Executive of Ofcom, has also come out and said: “Clearly an episode like this goes straight to the heart of that wider reputation beyond their news and current affairs coverage.”

The reputational damage caused here was massively unforeseen, stemming from a lack of understanding of the important issues affecting the broadcaster. The monitoring and understanding of issues affecting corporate and political circles in more important than ever. Gaining insights has never been easier. Analytic reports, social listening tools, sentiment analysis, and research is available using Social360’s technology, and could save a lot of damage if used correctly and proactively.

Social360 is an advanced social media monitoring company. For more information, please contact Alex Baker or Giles Brown or visit our website –

Declan Short
Senior Analyst and Content & Marketing Manager