Gary Lineker provokes outrage with TV licence fee joke

Albertina Lloyd
·Entertainment reporter, Yahoo UK
·3 min read
Sports comemntator Gary Lineker is still the highest earning presenter at the BBC, with a salary of £1,750,000 – £1,754,999, the same as he earned last year. (Credit: PA)

Gary Lineker was the highest-earning presenter at the BBC in 2020, with a salary of £1.75m. (PA)

Gary Lineker has left some fans fuming after making a joke about the TV licence fee increase.

The BBC announced this week that the licence fee will rise by £1.50 from 1 April this year, and will now cost £159 for an annual colour TV licence instead of £157.50.

Lineker, 60, tweeted the news, qupping: "But, but I’ve just taken a pay cut."

The former footballer turned TV presenter – who has been hosting flagship sports show Match Of The Day since 1999 – is currently the highest-paid member of staff at the BBC, according to the corporation's official list of published salaries, with an annual wage of £1.75m last year.

Watch: Gary Lineker leads tributes to legendary Diego Maradona

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However, when the BBC published its top earners list in 2020, it announced Lineker had signed a new five-year deal that would see him take a 23% pay cut, affecting his salary from 2021.

Outraged followers – of which Lineker has 7.8m – hit back to say they did not find the joke funny.

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 14:  Gary Lineker speaks during a pro-remain a rally rejecting the the Prime Minister's Brexit deal on November 14, 2018 in London, England. Anti-Brexit groups 'Best for Britain' and 'The People's Vote Campaign' are holding a joint rally tonight to call on MPs to say they are not buying the Prime Minister's Brexit deal.  (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

Gary Lineker's joke offended many of his Twitter followers. (Getty Images)

One replied: "Wow! If it's a joke, it's a bad one. If not, then it's just hopelessly insensitive and crass."

While somebody else wrote: "I know you are having banter, and I for one don’t mind that. But in these desperate times, where a lot of people are struggling financially and mentally, your timing isn’t great Gary."

Another tweeted: "Massive fan of your quips Gary. I’m not 'offended' like some comments are insinuating, but gut feeling when I first read this was that it missed the mood of the public. Lots struggling and every bill seems to be increasing."

One Twitter responded: "That’s lovely Gary. I’ve always liked you but not sure about such a tasteless joke when millions, like me, are watching a lifetime of successful business destroyed while also getting zero help. I’ve had NO INCOME since March 2020 but still have to pay your bl***y wages."

But others defended Lineker, with one user pointing out: "I think the joke has gone over most people’s heads. Gary is likely saying he took a pay cut so the BBC didn’t have to do things like this to increase profits."

Presenter Gary Lineker during the BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2019 at The P&J Live, Aberdeen. (Photo by Jane Barlow/PA Images via Getty Images)

Gary Lineker presenting the BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2019. (Getty Images)

And another said: "Well I thought it was amusing. I also think that the BBC is an incredible bargain and worth every penny. How many of the people whinging about it pay even more [to] all the other streaming services."

Read more: John Humphrys brands Gary Lineker's pay 'outrageous'

The BBC has been publishing the individual salaries of its highest-paid stars for several years, with Lineker always being in the top two earners – only being overtaken by Chris Evans once when he hosted the Radio 2 breakfast show.

Before that the BBC would publish a lump sum paid to its celebrity talent earning over £1m a year, with Lineker always believed to be among them.

Watch: Gary Lineker tops BBC salaries list yet again