BBC Sport director Barbara Slater confirms £ 1.75m presenter Gary Lineker has a job for life


Gary Lineker will host the first Premier League game live from the BBC on Saturday – his boss saying the seat of the day is his for as long as he likes.

A record television audience is expected to listen to Bournemouth’s shock with Crystal Palace, which is the first high-level game the Beeb have broadcast live since 1988.

And in a rare interview to mark the occasion, Barbara Slater, director of BBC Sport, praised longtime Lineker, who is the company’s highest paid presenter, earning £ 1.75 million a year last.

BBC Sport director says match of the day's seat is Gary Lineker for as long as he wants

BBC Sport director says match of the day’s seat is Gary Lineker for as long as he wants

When asked if she expected him to remain the anchor of the day for “many years to come”, Slater replied Sportsmail: “From our point of view, yes, we do. Frankly, he is the best in the industry and he is a fantastic asset to this organization and he wants him to continue presenting Match of the Day.

“Obviously this is a decision he will make, but there is no question for us that we really appreciate Gary and his contribution.”

Lineker will present the 7:45 p.m. kickoff from the BBC’s Salford studio, alongside experts Alan Shearer and Ian Wright, along with Steve Wilson and Jermaine Jenas, the commenting team at Vitality Stadium.

The BBC will show its first high-flying game live since 1988 when the host of Crystal Palace in Bournemouth

The BBC will show its first high-flying game live since 1988 when the host of Crystal Palace in Bournemouth

The usually low-key game is set to become the most-watched Premier League game in British television history, breaking the record set in 2012, when 4 million viewers watched the Manchester Derby on Sky Sports.

As part of the government’s request for a third of the remaining high-level games to be broadcast in the clear, the Beeb will also broadcast Norwich against Everton on Wednesday, Manchester City’s visit to Southampton on July 5, and yet another. undecided, match.

In his 11 years as boss of BBC Sport, Slater never expected such a rights agreement. “We wish we were not in these circumstances, but it is a wonderful opportunity to introduce high-level football to the widest possible audience,” said Slater, who revealed that there could also be as many as to four highlights of today’s match over a week. .

“It is something very special. I am confident that we will provide Premier League football to countless millions. “

Broadcaster will also show Norwich City home game with Everton on Wednesday

Broadcaster will also show Norwich City home game with Everton on Wednesday

In the absence of fans to generate an atmosphere, the contested decision was made to use a false crowd noise on the BBC One program, viewers having to use the red button to be able to watch with natural sound.

“We decided to make a very late appeal on this matter,” said Slater. “We have collected a lot of feedback from our talents and much more broadly, and there is a broad consensus that some improvement in sound makes it a better viewing experience.”

If fans are still not allowed to enter the stadiums at the start of next season, there have been calls for the BBC to be offered more live Premier League games, something Sky Sports and BT Sport will resist. But Slater said: “Our objective at the moment is to conclude this season, covering it in the best possible way and without speculating on the long term.”

The return of high-level football – albeit temporary – to terrestrial television contravenes the time trend of Slater in charge, when the BBC lost many sporting events to subscription channels.

BBC Sport director Barbara Slater said the company would fight to save the rights of rugby

BBC Sport director Barbara Slater said company will fight to save rugby rights

As a former golf producer, she is saddened by the fact that the Beeb no longer has any real rights over the four majors of the sport. And the Six Nations may be the next to go, with Sky removing the BBC and ITV from 2022.

“We are concerned about this,” said Slater when asked if she was afraid of losing the rugby tournament. “This process is interrupted, so I probably shouldn’t be talking about live trading, but it’s incredibly competitive. These are premium rights.

“We know that and we are trying to beat the drum around our reach as hard as possible. You can’t deny the BBC’s reach capacity and that is something we always say to governing bodies in any negotiation, we bring these numbers to the table.

“We would like to maintain everything we do, but I think there is a cycle and sometimes you lose. There is a reason why a sport is going one way and I am really proud that the FA Cup and cricket have returned.

Premier League trip from Manchester City to Southampton will be shown by the BBC on Sunday 5 July

Premier League trip from Manchester City to Southampton will be shown by the BBC on Sunday 5 July

“We cannot afford everything, we had to make choices. We will do our best with the resources we have to get the best portfolio possible and that will inevitably change over time.

“But if you consider our investment in sports rights, I think you can say that we are overweight. Free broadcasting is really crucial and it is a challenge for all governing bodies to find this balance between revenue and reach. “

The reach of the BBC has never been more apparent than last year’s Women’s World Cup, when a peak audience of 11.7 million spectators attended England’s semi-final against United States.

Slater has been instrumental in promoting women’s sport and says the BBC’s commitment to cover it “will not decrease” despite the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

The former British gymnast has also overseen a controversial change in the custody of Beeb broadcasters, with many highly regarded and experienced voices giving way to young talent.

Sir Geoff Boycott has confirmed that his 14-year spell on BBC Test Match Special is over

Sir Geoff Boycott has confirmed that his 14-year spell on BBC Test Match Special is over

Commentator Alan Green said he was shown “very little respect” when told that his contract will not be renewed this summer, while presenter Mark Pougatch, cricket commentator Geoff Boycott and Cornelius Lysaght horse races were also shown the door.

“Things change, they change over time,” said Slater. “There can be so many individual reasons (for people leaving). Financially, we could choose to prioritize a sport over the past. Sometimes it’s because these people make their own choices. We also have many occasions when they get opportunities elsewhere and the availability is not the same.

“There are a multitude of reasons, but basically, I think it’s fair that as an ambitious company for the future, we attract new talent.

“We have fantastic examples. Look at Isa Guha, winner of the World Cup, who will defend our cricket. We presented some really brilliant new diffusers with great expertise and a track record in a sport.

“I would say that it is simply a natural evolution and an ambition for us to have the best talents, but also talents that reflect both the sport and the public watching us. I don’t think we’re doing something that no other company would do. “

Among the many challenges that the coronavirus has launched for the BBC, one concerns the sports personality of the year.

Slater identified Isa Guha as one of the BBC's rising stars before cricket season

Slater identified Isa Guha as one of the BBC’s rising stars before cricket season

Marcus Rashford saw his chances of winning the prize this week after forcing the government to turn around for free school meals. The Manchester United forward is the common favorite with world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, who eliminated Deontay Wilder in February.

Captain Tom Moore, the 100-year war veteran, is the bookmaker’s third favorite for the trophy after collecting nearly £ 33 million for the NHS through 100 laps of his garden.

But given the widespread cancellation of sporting events, the BBC has not yet decided whether it will even award the prize, which has been awarded annually since its inception in 1954.

When asked if they would crown a winner in 2020, Slater admitted, “I can’t guarantee that now. My gut feeling there would be something but it could be very different. I don’t think it will necessarily be the same program we normally do.

“It is under review. It is premature to make this decision. We don’t know how the rest of the year will go. We will have been doing sports this year but we just don’t know how much. We will try to do something that honestly reflects the year. “

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