TONY GILLAN: Would anyone miss Gary Lineker if he was not on MOTD?

Gary Lineker
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There was fun last week when the BBC published the salaries of every employee who takes home more than £150,000 each year.

As the licence fee we pay is a tax in all but name, this seems reasonable.

Much was made of the gender pay gap because so few women were on the list; although in the interests of balance we should point out that at least one of them was Vanessa Feltz.

National tabloids, whose proprietors have a vested interest in running down the corporation, were predictably awash with self-righteousness – not to mention hypocrisy, misinformation and spite.

Those undisputed champions of femista, The Sun, were even screamier and unhinged than usual.

Not that they were alone.

But, oh my, doesn’t Gary Lineker make it easy for them.

There is justification for the hefty salaries of almost, but not quite everyone on the list.

Chris Evans is one of the most irritating people on earth and his “talent” is not immediately obvious. But his defence is his ratings.

This is a poor defence.

Surely anyone who presents the Radio Two Breakfast show could pull in a large audience.

But a poor defence is better than none; which is what Lineker and his easily replaceable Match of the Day cronies have.

For no other reason than his being a BBC employee, the papers have got it in for Lineker. His ludicrous £1.8m wages make him a sitting duck.

This is before considering what he rakes in for moonlighting on BT Sport, as well as whatever he trousers as a junk food salesman.

He managed to exacerbate matters with some horribly ill-considered Tweeting. However, Lineker’s overpayment isn’t his fault – no one declines more cash – it’s the BBC’s.

Within reason, does anyone actually care who presents MOTD?

Match of the Day 2 is usually anchored by Mark Chapman; muddling by on a mere £250,000 at most. Why does Lineker earn more than Chapman?

The “reason” is that Chapman didn’t score 48 goals for England.

But as Lineker only ever asks other ex-pros for their thoughts rather than offer his own, his playing experience is rendered redundant.

The BBC has never understood that the only thing attracting audiences to football programmes – is football.

Some contributors are better than others, but no one really gives a hoot about presenters, pundits, graphics or sets; just football.

If it is true that Lineker, Shearer, etc would leave the BBC if their salaries were to become something like sensible: so what? No one would give a monkey’s and audience figures wouldn’t alter.

This was proven years ago when Andy Gray was booted out by Sky.

And as for hot air about “the market” ... oh please.

If Lineker, Shearer and Danny Murphy were replaced with, respectably, Joe Bolton, Lee Howey and a third person randomly selected from the clientele of the Museum Vaults, people would still tune in. Possibly in greater numbers.

Football “experts” across television never reveal anything that the average footy fan hadn’t worked out for themselves. Pundits were just better at playing the game than the rest of us and do virtually nothing now to justify their wages.

Go further. The BBC could better serve those who pay for it by allowing ITV to take over football coverage completely.

However you dress it up, it would be the same programme and would save licence payers hundreds of millions of quid; and no one would miss out on anything; barring a few nonentities and their agents.

Still, I am obliged to end this piece with something that should always be remembered in any discussion about Auntie.

The BBC is a million miles from perfection, but only costs each household 40p per day.

It is one of the greatest bargains in existence.