Fury as Gary Lineker tops BBC salary list for sixth year running with £1.35m pay

Tim Davie admits regret over Gary Lineker affair

Tory MPs hit out at the BBC after Gary Lineker was revealed to be its highest-paid star for the sixth year running.

The Match of the Day host – who sparked an impartiality row earlier this year over criticism of the Government’s small boats crackdown – was paid between £1,350,000 and £1,354,999 in 2022/23, according to the corporation’s annual report.

Conservative MP Marco Longhi suggested the huge sum should instead be used to fund free TV licences for pensioners and branded the BBC “out of touch”.

Meanwhile, fellow Tory MP Philip Davies urged the broadcaster to give Lineker’s job to an “up-and-coming journalist at a lower cost”.

Mr Longhi, who represents Dudley North, told the Express: “The BBC is so out of touch with the population that it cannot see how sickening this pay level is.

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READ MORE: BBC’s Tim Davie admits major regret over Gary Lineker saga in grilling by MPs

“Why not save all this money and fund older people’s licence fees? Why not offer this role up to young presenters and give them a chance?

“The licence fee is a tax on TVs. As such taxpayer’s money should never be used to fund, directly or indirectly, political viewpoints.

“The BBC’s complete failure to ensure impartiality in recent years makes these payments to Gary Lineker even more offensive to taxpayers.”

Shipley MP Mr Davies, who is a GB News presenter, added: “Being a professional virtue signaller is clearly very lucrative.

“Lord knows why the BBC are so determined to pay him such a colossal salary from licence fee payers’ money.

“This is a prime example of taking money from poor people and giving it to rich people – something that Lineker claims to be opposed to. He should be judged by his actions, not his words.

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“The BBC should give an opportunity to present Match of the Day to an up-and-coming journalist at a lower cost.

“The BBC seem to forget that people were watching Match of the Day long before Lineker started presenting it, and they will be watching it long after he has left.”

Pundit Lineker was the only BBC star to earn more than £1million last year, which was for work including Match Of The Day, coverage of the World Cup 2023 and Sports Personality Of The Year.

The former England footballer first topped the list for 2017/18 with a salary of £1,750,000 to £1,759,999. In 2020 it was announced he had taken a voluntary pay cut.

Zoe Ball continues to be the broadcaster’s second highest-paid talent and the highest-paid woman with a salary of £980,000 to £984,999 for her Radio 2 breakfast show and a Radio 2 tribute to Terry Wogan.

Lineker’s Match Of The Day colleague Alan Shearer is in third place with pay of £445,000 to £449,99.

Huw Edwards is the corporation’s highest-paid newsreader, with a bracket of £435,000 to £439,999, putting him fourth on the list.

Radio star Stephen Nolan, Question Time host Fiona Bruce, Radio 1 presenter Greg James, former Radio 2 host Ken Bruce, Desert Island Discs presenter Lauren Laverne and newsreader Sophie Raworth complete the top 10.

John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “If the BBC wants to pay these huge sums, they should move to a subscription model and axe the tax.”

The Defund the BBC group also called for the licence fee to be axed.

Campaign director Rebecca Ryan said: “It is time now for the TV licence fee to be axed and for the BBC to be made to stand on its own merits – or not.”

The salaries of the corporation’s top talent have been unveiled while the BBC is under pressure over allegations an unnamed presenter paid a teenager for explicit images.

Tim Davie, director-general of the BBC, said: “I am proud of the content we have delivered – the very best of the BBC – from royal programming to wonderful sporting moments and coverage of the Ukraine war. We have seen this again recently, with Eurovision, the Coronation and Glastonbury.

“It remains a period of change, financial pressures and great competition in the media market. Our task is not always easy and we have to make some difficult choices.

“But these are challenges we must embrace as we know that the BBC is needed now more than ever, in an age of polarisation and increasing disinformation.”

Additional reporting by David Dubas-Fisher from Reach Plc’s Data Unit

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