Gary Lineker’s agent has defended the presenter’s large BBC salary, saying: “The market has set the rate.”
The broadcaster has revealed it paid the Match of the Day star between £1.75million and £1.8 million in the 12 months up to April 2017, making him the second-highest paid member of BBC talent behind Chris Evans.
The highest-paid female presenter was Claudia Winkleman, who earned between £450,000 and £500,000.
Lineker’s representative Jon Holmes said the huge pay gap between men and women is the fault of the agents who represent the female talent and the broadcaster.
He also claimed a former female client was told to get “a good job before her looks went” and that she would never get a job presenting football.
Holmes would not reveal the name of the presenter or the name of the broadcaster.
He said: “I can only speak for sport, but it is a gross failure for an agent if their clients are doing the same job (as men) on less money.
“The broadcaster is to blame too, they should pay them the same money.”
He added: “If you go on a negotiating course they will tell you there is no one way to negotiate.
“I will say it’s better to lay your marker down, and as high as possible. The danger is they can’t afford it and run away.
“Maybe women feel happier being represented by women and women are not as tough, but I have found women very tough negotiators and vowed never to buy a house off a woman.
“At the end of the day it’s up to people to negotiate and for the negotiators to push for what they are worth.”
Defending his client’s high pay, he said: “Lineker didn’t become the best paid (sports commentator) over night.
“He became the best paid from probably staying with one channel and probably getting better and other people coveting him.
“It’s natural for them to be competitive. He’s the only ex-professional who is also a frontline presenter on football.
“He has a dual skill as a presenter and an ex-player. The pictures are so much better now so only someone who has played the game can see something helpful and who can add something to the discussion.”
Holmes, whose clients also include Mike Atherton, Brian Moore and David Gower, continued: “The issue of transparency is something we are much more reticent about here than in the US.
“The market has set the rate, you can’t operate outside the market. Football is the main prop of Sky and is one of the main props of the BBC.
“I can reveal Lineker was approached when he was a second string to Des Lynam but didn’t break the contract. Since then it has been a mutually rewarding relationship.
“When the big competitions are on multiple channels, the BBC has the biggest audience.”
Holmes said he believes the BBC is more transparent than other broadcasters, where female sports presenters have a difficult time.
He said: “The BBC are a lot more open than the others.
“I represented a female sports presenter, who shall remain nameless, who was told by a broadcaster she would never present football and to make sure she got a good job before her looks went.”