Gary Lineker, Jonathan Gullis and a gauntlet unlikely to be taken up

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Football Daily is a broad church with 1,057 readers scattered around various parts the world. Many to be will be fortunate enough to be unfamiliar with the name or work of Jonathan Gullis, the Conservative member of parliament for Stoke-on-Trent North and human equivalent of that viral clip starring an irate chimpanzee flinging lumps of its own excrement at curious zoo-goers standing outside its enclosure. Despite being a lowly backbench MP, this former teacher first entered the national consciousness when a clip of him behaving at his most simian in his designated House of Commons seat during Prime Minister’s Questions became a symbol for Tory arrogance, cruelty and indifference towards poverty. With a majority of 6,286 to defend at the next election, it’s a seat Gullis is fully expected to lose, due in no small part to a series of often barely coherent and ill-conceived pronouncements opposing immigration, free school meals, the Black Lives Matter movement, people who eat avocados and Gary Lineker, among other extremely weird bugbears.

Yes, Gary Lineker. The former footballer turned BBC presenter incurred the public wrath of Gullis by signing an open letter opposing the government’s inhumane, illegal and unworkable Rwanda Bill for asylum seekers, prompting the Right Honourable Member to criticise him on TwiXer and write an angry tell-tale letter to the BBC director-general Tim Davie, another Tory, accusing Lineker of breaching impartiality guidelines. By way of rebuttal, Lineker stated that Gullis obviously hadn’t cast his eye over the guidelines, in a mildly amusing post that also tacitly suggested the MP is unable to read.

In an appearance for Sky News’ Politics Hub on Wednesday night, Gullis tore into Lineker again, saying he had dragged the BBC’s good name “through the mud” before concluding that he “either runs the BBC or the director-general is too scared to actually stand up to him”. Firmly of the belief that only elected politicians should be allowed to publicly opine on matters of national importance, Gullis also told presenter Sophy Ridge that “I think Gary needs to spend less time virtue-signalling and more time talking about football, which he’s actually very good at”. And with the bit firmly between his teeth, he went on to tell the man he insists should stay out of politics to get into politics by challenging Lineker to put his name on the ballot paper at the next election “and let the people decide”.

At the time of writing, Lineker – who lives approximately 175 miles from Gullis’s constituency office, has no apparent ambition to run for political office and may not have set foot in the Potteries since Rory Delap was last spotted slingshotting throw-ins towards the opposition goal on a Match of the Day FA Cup special – had yet to dignify the challenge with a response but is unlikely to take up the gauntlet. His braying nemesis will almost certainly have to settle for losing his seat to somebody with a far less high profile, unless the former England striker fancies proving his many Tory detractors wrong by doing it on a wet election night in Stoke.


“It’s better not to think about it. You have to trick your brain. I could go around thinking about that all the time and sit at home and be miserable and think I’m unlucky and so on. It’s easy to end up in that position. But no, see the positive sides of things and don’t bury yourself in setbacks, because this is the biggest setback of them all” – former England manager Sven-Göran Eriksson reveals he has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and, in a “best-case” scenario, has about a year left to live.


Re: Middlesbrough’s ‘famous 2004 Milk Cup triumph’ (yesterday’s Football Daily). Has anyone ever considered winning this competition a famous victory? Seems more like one of those character actor levels of fame, where you always recognise them when they’re in stuff but can never remember their name” – Andy Gill (Palace fan, who have won precisely nothing in 119 years).

Re: Tony Walsh’s Mr Men missive (yesterday’s Football Daily letters). If he needs a Mr Greedy, there are plenty of candidates plying their trade (or not, in some currently very public cases …) in the Saudi Pro League” – Derek McGee.

Can I be the first of 1,057 readers to congratulate Chelsea’s WSL team for signing Sweden defender Nathalie Björn from Everton ‘on a deal running to summer 2007’ (yesterday’s News, Bits and Bobs, full email edition). Has Todd Boehly cracked time-travel, Benjamin Button-style?” – Adam Sherlock (and 1,056 others).

Send your letters to [email protected]. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … Derek McGee.


Linda Caicedo, Guru Reiten and Hinata Miyazawa are among the players revealed as we get all the way to No 11 on our annual countdown.


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