GARY Lineker said he’d become “a bit of a whipping boy” for BBC critics as he confirmed he’s negotiating his £1.75 salary.
The Match of the Day host hinted reports over his potential pay cut were true, but said he would make an announcement “when there is the time and place”.
Lineker – the Beeb’s highest earner – told BBC Radio 5 Live he accepted it was difficult to justify his salary compared with “people who do a real job”, but said it is “the market rate”.
Asked by host Nihal Arthanayake how he felt reports earlier this week saying he would take a pay cut, the footie legend said he had become “a bit of a whipping boy” for critics of the corporation.
Lineker, 58, said: “I’m kind of a whipping boy for the BBC on all types of topics – some I bring on myself, admittedly.”
BEEB’S HIGHEST EARNER
Responding to reports about his salary potentially being slashed, he added: “I didn’t say it was not true. We are in negotiations at the moment. When there is the time and place to say what’s happening, we’ll all make it clear. And if not, you’ll read it every July.
“But I love working for the BBC. There are problems working for the BBC obviously because of what it is and what it entails, but it’s a great place, and I’d hope to be here working with the BBC for many years to come.”
Lineker, 58, is one of the BBC’s most high-profile presenters.
His pay packet remained unchanged in the figures published this summer, unlike some BBC stars who had cuts.
I’m kind of a whipping boy for the BBC on all types of topics – some I bring on myself, admittedly
Lineker said he understood critics who said he was paid too much.
“Of course I get that. I’ve always felt like that. I’ve felt incredibly fortunate. I felt like that when I was a footballer. And I feel like that as a broadcaster now” he said.
“But you know, that’s the market rate. That’s what it’s worth. And obviously, you could get bit more somewhere else.
“It is what it is, and it’s the same whether you’re a footballer or whether you’re at the top of the entertainment world, or whether you’re a singer, whether you’re a top actor.
“You’re paid money that is way beyond really what you deserve, but nobody’s going to go, ‘Actually, no, I’ll for work for a pittance’. They’re not going to do that. I always feel uncomfortable talking about it, but at the same time, I’m not complaining.”
Earlier this week Lineker, who is promoting his new book, joined a campaign aimed at putting an end to online trolling.
Speaking on 5 Live, the former Everton, Barcelona and Spurs star said he has blocked “thousands of people on Twitter” because of the abuse he gets online.
The move also comes just weeks after we told how the ex-footie ace sparked a Twitter storm by suggesting he “must be due a pay rise”.
He was slammed by social media users, who pointed out that his wages could cover the cost of the TV licence for thousands of pensioners.
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Lineker earns 13 times more than ex-Match of the Day host Jimmy Hill but has a fraction of his audience.
Hill regularly attracted 12million viewers but was paid only £50,000 — around £130,000 in today’s money.
Lineker was watched by just 3.36million on one Saturday night last season.
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