The salaries of the BBC’s highest-paid sports commentators, presenters and pundits have been revealed for the first time, with Match of the Day host Gary Lineker earning more than £1.75million.
The former England footballer earns four times as much as BBC Sport’s next highest earner, his Match of the Day colleague and fellow ex-striker Alan Shearer, who is paid between £400,000-449,000.
Question of Sport and tennis presenter Sue Barker is the best-paid woman at BBC Sport, earning between £300,000-349,999.
Other big-earners include versatile TV presenters John Inverdale and Gabby Logan, who both earn between £200,000-249,999, and tennis pundit John McEnroe and Test Match Special commentator Jonathan Agnew, who earn between £150,000-199,999.
The BBC has published what it pays senior managers for several years but has always resisted calls to declare the salaries of on-screen “talent”, saying it would have an inflationary effect in a competitive market.
But last year, the government forced the BBC to reveal the salaries of all employees earning more than £150,000 - in £50,000 bands - as a condition of its continuing right to receive £147 annual licence fee.
As a result, Wednesday’s publication of the annual report has attracted considerably more interest than usual, with 96 names on the list.
The 56-year-old Lineker’s salary is second only to Radio 2 presenter Chris Evans’ pay of £2.2-2.25millon, although this list does not include what several big stars earn from independent companies that make programmes for the BBC or what they earn from their own production companies.
This would explain why chat-show host and radio presenter Graham Norton’s salary is listed at £850,000-899,999 when it is widely believed that he is really the best-paid man at the corporation.
Lineker, in fact, is likely to earn more from the BBC than his personal salary as his production company Goalhanger Films also makes documentaries for the corporation, including the recent film about boxer Anthony Joshua, and co-produces The Premier League Show.
In a tweet on Wednesday morning, Lineker wrote: “Happy BBC salary day. I blame my agent and the other TV channels that pay more. Now where did I put my tin helmet?”
Clare Balding is another ubiquitous BBC presenter who is likely to receive a large proportion of her pay via her own ‘Clearly Clare’ production company and other independent producers.
According to the annual report, Balding’s BBC salary is in the lowest declared bracket of £150,000-199,999, the same as Agnew, McEnroe and rugby union pundit Jonathan Davies.
Apart from presenter Dan Walker, who now also presents BBC1’s Breakfast show, the only other sports presenter on the list is Jason Mohammad, whose salary of £250,000-299,999 may raise the most eyebrows as he is still relatively unknown outside Wales, where he started as a news reporter and presenter.
More recently, however, Mohammad has been presenting rugby union, snooker and Saturday’s Final Score programme, as well as being part of the BBC’s Rio 2016 coverage and filling in on Match of the Day.