Why Gary Lineker deserves red card from Match of the Day and BBC – Tom Richmond

AS Gary Lineker starts filming the ironically-named game show Sitting On A Fortune, it is time that the BBC gave him the red card.

Gary Lineker is now the BBC's highest paid presenter.

Lineker is the BBC’s top earner, according to its annual report, and the Match of the Day presenter was paid £1.36m in 2020-21.

Even though this represented a £400,000 pay cut, it is still an obscene sum of money given Lineker’s limited duties at the Corporation.

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As the highest-paid presenter, Lineker should be working full-time for the BBC – and should be front and centre of its sports output.

Gary Lineker (right) with Match of the Day pundit Alan Shearer (left).

Yet, incredibly, he was nowhere to be seen during its round-the-clock broadcasting of the Tokyo Olympics – and the presentation was, in my view, enhanced by his absence.

Some, like Gabby Logan and Alex Scott, covered the Games after performing various roles during the Euro 2020 football tournament where Lineker was the main presenter (and England cheerleader).

Now, in one of his many other paid jobs, Lineker has acquired the Sitting On A Fortune gig with ITV who remain the BBC’s biggest rivals for prime-time viewers. He even put out a tweet this week inviting his fans to join him in the studio audience.

Sorry, but the sanctimonious, smug and smarmy Lineker cannot have it both ways after his defence of the £3 a week TV licence attracted so much criticism because his salary is so out of step with the incomes of ordinary families.

Gary Lineker fronted the BBC's coverage of the Euro 2020 football championships.

Either he works full-time for the BBC – £1.36m should be sufficient for the former footballer to live in the style to which he’s become accustomed and champion his causes – or he’s given the boot and replaced by presenters who are far more talented, knowledgeable, empathetic and do not cost a fortune to make some wooden gags and read an autocue.

For, while Match of the Day was an institution in the days of Des Lynam, Jimmy Hill and Alan Hansen, it has lost its way and been surpassed by the more incisive analysis offered on Sky Sports, just about the only channel not to employ Lineker. Yet.

A FUNDAMENTAL point has been missed over Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab’s holiday arrangements while the Afghanistan capital Kabul fell to the Taliban.

Raab’s remit is supposed to extend beyond the Foreign Office. As First Secretary of State, he is also the Prime Minister’s de facto deputy.

Who in their right minds in Downing Street – irrespective of world events – thought it was sensible for both men to be on leave simultaneously and when it was abundantly clear, from early last week, that the withdrawal of US and UK forces was going to lead to the collapse of Afghanistan?

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said diplomacy cannot be conducted from the beach. I’d make a more serious charge.

I’d venture that both Johnson and Raab are guilty of not reading diplomatic communiqués in their Ministerial red boxes – and that is why both stand accused of such a serious dereliction of duty.

EVEN though Boris Johnson’s political hero is Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister has shown very little assuredness on foreign affairs.

When Foreign Secretary, his only visit to Afghanistan was a one-day flying visit on June 25, 2018, with three staff.

The date’s significance? The timing meant that he avoided a key Commons vote on the expansion of Heathrow Airport after previously vowing to lie down in front of bulldozers.

And to think this is the example of the unprincipled man now expected to command the respect of those brave service personnel when they’re deployed into enemy territory on this country’s behalf...

MY column of July 9 about Theresa May’s contribution to Parliament from the backbenches drew murmurs of displeasure from readers on all sides of the political debate who will never forgive the former PM for her handling of Brexit.

Perhaps they’ll reconsider in lieu of her devastating interventions in this week’s emergency Commons debate on the Afghanistan crisis when she skewered her successor, one Boris Johnson, over failing to engage with Nato over alternative strategies – or providing any substance to Global Britain.

Put it this way, she’d be a far more effective and credible Foreign Secretary at present than Dominic Raab. The problem is she wouldn’t be taken seriously by the PM. And that’s the problem. He’s shown himself now not to be a serious leader on too many occasions for Britain’s good.

FOR the record, not one Tory MP has contacted The Yorkshire Post to express disquiet at this newspaper’s renewed calls for Education Secretary Gavin Williamson to resign – or be sacked.

On that basis, I’d like to know if they’re happy with Williamson’s latest wheeze; namely the DfE’s latest guidance encouraging schools to hold lessons and assemblies outdoors if there’s a potential threat to Covid.

Two points. First, why has it taken 18 months for the DfE to realise the importance of ventilation in classrooms? Second, what do they suggest in the depths of winter?

FINALLY, it was worrying to hear the number of racing luminaries from Newmarket who are curtailing the frequency of visits to York due to congestion on the A1 and A64. They ask why we put up with such antiquated roads when they don’t down south. It’s very good point.

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