Match Of The Day presenter Gary Lineker has confirmed he is in “negotiations” with the BBC amid reports he has volunteered to take a pay cut.
The former England striker earns £1.75 million a year, making him the BBC’s highest earner, according to figures published in July.
Lineker told BBC Radio 5 Live he accepted it was difficult to justify his salary compared with “people who do a real job”, but said it is “the market rate”.
He claimed he has become “a bit of a whipping boy” for critics of the BBC and hinted reports over his potential pay cut were true.
He told host Nihal Arthanayake: “I didn’t say it was not true. We are in negotiations at the moment. When there is the time and place to say what’s happening, we’ll all make it clear. And if not, you’ll read it every July.
“But I love working for the BBC. There are problems working for the BBC obviously because of what it is and what it entails, but it’s a great place, and I’d hope to be here working with the BBC for many years to come.”
Lineker, 58, is one of the BBC’s most high-profile presenters.
His pay packet remained unchanged in the figures published this summer, unlike some BBC stars who had cuts.
Lineker said he understood critics who said he was paid too much.
“Of course I get that. I’ve always felt like that. I’ve felt incredibly fortunate. I felt like that when I was a footballer. And I feel like that as a broadcaster now” he said.
“But you know, that’s the market rate. That’s what it’s worth. And obviously, you could get bit more somewhere else.
“It is what it is, and it’s the same whether you’re a footballer or whether you’re at the top of the entertainment world, or whether you’re a singer, whether you’re a top actor.
“You’re paid money that is way beyond really what you deserve, but nobody’s going to go, ‘Actually, no, I’ll for work for a pittance’. They’re not going to do that. I always feel uncomfortable talking about it, but at the same time, I’m not complaining.”
Earlier this week Lineker, who is promoting his new book, joined a campaign aimed at putting an end to online trolling.
Speaking on 5 Live, the former Everton, Barcelona and Spurs star said he has blocked “thousands of people on Twitter” because of the abuse he gets online.