It was revealed earlier this week that Gary Lineker is a very wealthy man, and is the second-highest paid employee at the BBC. Lineker earned between £1.75 million and £1.8 million last year, for fronting Match of the Day along with the BBC's live coverage of the FA Cup and Sports Personality of the Year. The list of BBC's high earners draws attention to a serious gender gap in the BBC, but instead, much of the public discourse around the list has focused on Lineker.
There has been a bit of a backlash to Lineker drawing such a large salary from public money, but he works in an industry in which Jesse Lingard grosses £5 million a year and Thierry Henry reportedly rakes home £4 million a year for saying nothing on Sky Sports.
Lineker is genuinely good at his job too, and aside from presenting football, was just about the most coherent voice of the British Left during the Brexit referendum, and constantly espoused compassion for immigrants and those on the margins of society when they were being demonised elsewhere.
Such a political stance was bound to clash with The Daily Mail and The Sun, who have used Lineker's BBC salary has a stick to beat him with.
Such a delight when on holiday to be approached and hassled by a Daily Mail journalist by the hotel pool. Sense another hatchet job beckons.
— Gary Lineker 💙💛 (@GaryLineker) July 20, 2017
The Sun have been following Lineker on holiday, and they've had a pop at him twice within the space of a day. So eager are they to criticise Lineker, they don't really know what the problem is.
The first was published yesterday, a piece which criticised Lineker having the temerity to spend his money on a Hublot watch.
It dredged up the following Instagram post:
The Sun priced the watch, and included it in the headline:
Gary Lineker flaunts £16k Hublot watch as he makes light of his £1.6m pay packet amid BBC gender gap storm
Look at Lineker there, indecent enough to spend your hard-earned money!
Having had a go at Lineker for having carelessly spent money on himself, they followed it up the following day by slating him....for not spending money. The bastard!
Gary Lineker nips out for a coffee in LA to save a few dollars on a drink… despite his £1.6million BBC pay packet
The Match of the Day presenter, 56, left the £1,000-a-night Wardorf Astoria — where a cup of coffee costs £7 — to buy a £2.80 Starbucks drink to take away.
Also in that second article, The Sun decided to put Lineker's salary into some kind of context, and came up with: "the salaries of 68 NHS nurses". This would be a slightly more credible argument had The Sun not supported a referendum campaign which was built on a lie - sending £350 million per week to the NHS - and has had a potentially ruinous effect on the health service in Britain: it faces a staffing shortage, and Brexit has led to a 96% fall in the number of EU registering to work in the UK.
It's not the first time Lineker has been subject to some nonsense by The Sun: in October of last year, the paper's front page screamed for Lineker to be sacked by the BBC. His crime? This tweet, which The Sun perceived as "pedalling migrant lies":
The treatment by some towards these young refugees is hideously racist and utterly heartless. What's happening to our country?
— Gary Lineker 💙💛 (@GaryLineker) October 18, 2016
This came in response to Britain's decision to permit entry to 400 refugee children from Calais, to which critics responded by questioning whether all of those coming to Britain were in fact children. Tory MP David TC Davies, for example, wanted the children's teeth to be checked so they can verify that they are in fact children.