Ex-BBC governor says sack Gary Lineker and replace him with woman ‘at half the price’

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Lord Young of Norwood Green sparked an outcry in the House of Lords

Gary Lineker and his Match of the Day co-hosts Alan Shearer and Ian Wright should be sacked and replaced with a woman “at half the price”, a former BBC governor has said.

Lord Young of Norwood Green sparked an outcry from his own Labour benches in the House of Lords on Wednesday (15 March) for his remarks.

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He told peers in Westminster: “I tend to echo the view that was made about Gary Lineker and his salary. He’s like many people in that position in the past who believe they are irreplaceable.

“You’ll remember that Jeremy Clarkson and the Top Gear team thought that they were irreplaceable and needless to say that Top Gear thrives just as successfully without them.

“So, if I had a solution, and advice that I have conveyed in written form to the director-general, it would be to get rid of the old boys’ club, namely Lineker, Shearer and Wright, replace it with at least one or two women, which we could probably do at half the price and they’d do twice as good a job.”

Gary Lineker will return to Match Of The Day this weekend (Photo: PA)Gary Lineker will return to Match Of The Day this weekend (Photo: PA)
Gary Lineker will return to Match Of The Day this weekend (Photo: PA) | PA

The suggestion by Lord Young was met with heckles from several peers, including from his own party, with one shouting: “Half the price?”

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But Lord Young stood by his comments, insisting that he did not believe the BBC should be paying Mr Lineker a £1.35 million salary, or Mr Shearer’s £450,000 sum. He said: “I don’t believe that we should be paying those kinds of prices to presenters.”

Lord Young went on to say that firing the Match of the Day team and replacing them with lower-paid presenters could “save the BBC Singers, which provide a really important contribution to the country.” The BBC announced earlier this month that the BBC Singers choir would be closed later in 2023.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay, a minister in the department for Culture, Media and Sport, said: “Decisions about salaries are, of course, for the BBC, but the Government have urged transparency over those payments so the licence fee payers are aware of how their money is being spent.”

It comes after Mr Lineker became embroiled in a row over impartiality after publicly criticising the government’s Illegal Immigration Bill in a  post on Twitter last week. The 62-year-old compared the language used to launch a new government asylum seeker policy with 1930s Germany, and was subsequently taken off the air.

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A string of sports presenters and pundits later pulled out of BBC shows at the weekend in solidarity with Mr Lineker after he was told to step back from hosting the show.

The BBC’s director-general Tim Davie has now confirmed Mr Lineker will continue as the Match Of The Day host and announced an independent review of social media guidelines at the corporation, particularly for freelancers.

He said: “Everyone recognises this has been a difficult period for staff, contributors, presenters and, most importantly, our audiences. I apologise for this. The potential confusion caused by the grey areas of the BBC’s social media guidance that was introduced in 2020 is recognised. I want to get matters resolved and our sport content back on air.”

In a short statement, Lineker said: “I am glad that we have found a way forward. I support this review and look forward to getting back on air.” On Twitter, the former England striker described the past few days as “surreal”, adding he was “delighted we have navigated a way through this”.

Mr Lineker is due to resume his Match Of The Day duties on Saturday (18 March) and will “abide by the editorial guidelines” until the BBC review is complete, Mr Davie said.

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