The long-running BBC host was taken off the air on Saturday 11 March, for criticising the language used by ministers on Twitter when discussing the government’s asylum policy. The fall out between Lineker and the BBC led to a mass exodus of pundits and commentators with the likes of Ian Wright and Alan Shearer also not appearing on the show as a sign of solidarity with Lineker.
Lineker expressed his delight to be returning to the show, on Twitter he said: “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.”
The 62-year-old has established himself as one of the most successful presenters of his generation since swapping the pitch for the TV studio. But how long has Gary Lineker been presenting Match of the Day and who else has hosted the iconic football programme over the years? Here is everything you need to know.
Who has hosted Match of the Day?
Match of the Day has been the BBC’s flagship football programme since August 1964 and it is recognised by the Guinness World Records as the longest running football television programme in the world. Despite the show’s longevity, Match of the Day has only ever had five permanent hosts.
Kenneth Wolstenholme: 1964 - 1967
Kenneth Wolstenholme was an English football commentator for the BBC throughout the 1950s and 1960s and he was also the first ever host of Match of the Day. Wolstenholme commentated on every FA Cup final from 1951 to 1973.
He is best remembered for his unscripted delivery in the 1966 World Cup final between England and Germany - with England leading 3-2 a small pitch invasion took place during injury time just as Geoff Hurst scored to put England 4-2 ahead.
The events prompted Wolstenholme to say: “Some people are on the pitch…they think it’s all over…it is now!”
The phrase has become deeply embedded in English culture and fellow Match of the Day host Des Lynam said: “It will go on being heard until England win the World Cup, if they ever do.”
David Coleman: 1967 - 1973
David Coleman was a British sports commentator and television presenter who enjoyed a 46-year career with the BBC - covering a range of events including six World Cups from 1962 to 1982.
Alongside his duties with Match of the Day, Coleman was the host of the Saturday afternoon programme Grandstand and a key member of the BBC’s Wimbledon coverage.
Jimmy Hill: 1973 - 1988
Jimmy Hill was an English footballer and later a TV personality. His career included nearly every role in the sport and he was also a coach, manager, director, chairman, pundit and analyst. Hill achieved two promotions during his six years as Coventry manager from 1961 to 1967 - guiding the club from the third division to the top-flight.
Hill was also influential in a number of changes within the game including the abolition of the £20 per week maximum wage for players in football and the introduction of goal difference instead of goal average. Overall Hill made over 600 appearances on Match of the Day and he later became a pundit for the programme during the 1990s.
Des Lynam: 1988-1999
Des Lynam enjoyed a 40-year career in broadcasting which saw him present Grandstand, Match of the Day, Wimbledon, Sportsnight and the Olympic Games. Lynam joined Match of the Day in 1988 and he was present for the Hillsborough disaster in 1989 during his first season.
The BBC lost their rights to show top-flight football between 1988 and 1992 and Lynam solely presented FA Cup games for the first four years. The BBC regained the rights to the Premier League from 1992 and Lynam was present at a number of key international events including the Euro 1996 semi-final between England and Germany.
Lynam left the BBC to join rivals ITV in 1999. ITV later gained the rights to show Premier League highlights for three years between 2001 and 2004.
Gary Lineker: 1999 - present
Gary Lineker is a former England striker and the longest serving presenter in Match of the Day history. Lineker was viewed as one of the best strikers of his generation and he is known for prolific spells with Leicester City, Barcelona, Everton and Tottenham Hotspur.
He is the fourth highest goalscorer for England’s international team with 48 goals from 80 games. He was also a key member of the team which reached the semi-final of the 1990 World Cup. Lineker retired from football in 1994 and he worked as a pundit on Match of the Day throughout the 1990s before succeeding Des Lynam in 1999.
Match of the Day host stand ins
Mark Chapman is a British TV and radio presenter who mainly works in sport. He has fronted Match of the Day 2 coverage on Sunday evenings since 2013 and has occasionally filled in for Lineker during the main Saturday slot. The 49-year-old is the main presenter of 5 live Sport and he also works for Sky Sports to cover the Carabao Cup.
Gabby Logan is a Welsh presenter and a former international rhythmic gymnast who represented Great Britain and Wales. The 49-year-old began her TV career with the BBC in 2009 by being the lead presenter of Final Score.
Logan has also hosted The One Show, BBC Sports Personality of the Year and the Commonwealth Games. She is known for regularly standing in for Lineker and she also hosted a number of fixtures during the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Dan Walker is an English journalist and television presenter who is known for hosting the Channel 5 news. Walker was the host of Football Focus from 2009 to 2021 and also the host of BBC Breakfast from 2016 until 2022. He has made a number of appearances as the stand-in presenter for Match of the Day.