Gary Lineker on The Media Show: Football finances, gambling & social media

Gary Lineker: "Football's on the precipice. There's no doubt about that."
Gary Lineker stated that football is at "the edge" of financial collapse and expressed concern about the game's financial structure.

Ros Atkins, BBC Radio 4's Media Show host, spoke to the former England captain and Match of the Day broadcaster during an interview.

Lineker, 60 years old, covered a variety of topics, including gambling advertising and social media, as well as Match of the Day.

Lineker's concern about smaller clubs

All levels of football clubs suffered significant losses in broadcast and matchday revenue as the Covid-19 pandemic struck in March 2020. Large parts of the 2020-21 season were played behind closed doors.

In January 2021, a Deloitte Football Money League Survey revealed that the coronavirus epidemic would have caused more than 1.7 billion in losses for Europe's richest 20 clubs.

Lineker stated that although football is at the edge of collapse, it seems like it will always be there and stay alive.

"Look at Barcelona, and how they got into such a bad financial position.

"If they can make it happen, regardless of how much money they get, how can it be for small clubs?" We have seen clubs go to the walls."

Premier League clubs spent a combined total of 1.1bn during the summer transfer window despite financial difficulties due to the pandemic. There were also a few big-money moves that involved the richest sides.

Tim Bridge, a Deloitte football finance expert, stated recently on The Sports Desk podcast (audio) that Covid-19 had helped accelerate football's shift to big spenders.

Lineker was a former player for Spurs, Everton and Barcelona between 1979-1992. He said that football must "find a way" to funnel money to the lower league clubs.

"The great thing about football is that it's important for local communities. While you hope people will find a way to keep clubs alive, I believe that football must find a way to filter some of that money.

Derby County last week filed notice to appoint administrators due to their ongoing financial difficulties. The EFL has now taken a 12-point deduction for the Championship club. It is uncertain what the future holds for the club and its staff.

Lineker stated, "You like the idea that football can survive this," but only time will tell.

"My concern is not for the giants because I believe they will always find a way. But for smaller clubs and smaller towns, it's always going be very difficult."

Online and social media abuse

Lineker was responding to Piers Morgan's tweet that said: "Twitter is not the real world... 99 percent of people I actually encounter are very friendly, and nice."

Lineker is a prominent social media personality with over eight million Twitter followers - which means that he gets a lot attention when he posts online.

He stated that he doesn't tweet anything he doesn't believe in, and that he rarely looks at mentions under tweets about me or my name. I only see the responses and comments on Twitter from verified users or those I follow.

"I believe that the abusive nature of some people on these platforms is a huge problem for everyone. Most people in this country are kind and good people. However, there are a few abusive people who might use social media to cause you distress if they so chose.

"I don't like to read them. But by not reading the responses, you don't get the good stuff. You miss out on the great comments and the nice people. It's a shame, because it could be a decent conversation about something.

"I avoid it because you might have 1000 nice tweets but the one you remember is the one you're most proud of so I think, why bother?

Three rules govern my tweeting. I don’t tweet after I’ve had a drink. I don’t tweet when i’m angry. When I’m about to send a tweet, I review it and if I have any doubts about it, I don’t send it. This is my rule.

Lineker answers a question about whether his social media activities have an impact on how the BBC is perceived. He says, "I consider myself to be a freelancer anyway.

"Obviously, I work for the BBC and have done so for many years. I've worked with many people over the years and I always - I like it to think - been considerate of my employers when doing such things."

Match of the Day, audience habits

Lineker, who has been the host of BBC's Match of the Day since 1999 believes that it will continue to be a major part of sports broadcasting.

He said, "It [Match of the Day] was quite remarkable." It is in line with many other television and sport events. Highlights are not effective in any other sport than football. It gives the nation something, I believe as a program.

"We must remember that many people don't have Sky Sports or BT Sport, or Amazon. They get their weekly fix.

"Catch-up TV and BBC iPlayer are attracting a younger audience."

The UK bans the broadcasting of football matches between 14:45 and 17.15 on Saturdays during regular league or cup seasons. This is to preserve attendances at the 15:00 kick-offs.

This ruling was brought to light recently when Cristiano Ronaldo's second Manchester United debut, against Newcastle, was broadcast on Saturday at 15:00 BST. Highlights were then shown on Match of the Day.

Lineker believes that the broadcasting ban is important for football.

He said, "It's one the great wonders the Premier League and Football in this Country - it really doesn't happen anywhere else."

It's done to preserve attendances and make sure people continue to go to football matches. This is something that we have noticed more than any other time during the pandemic.

"If every game was broadcast on TV, the audience would become smaller, which would affect the quality of the final product.

"We also protect the lower leagues. We love to protect the incredible football pyramid. It's not going to be a good thing if everyone is at the game at 3pm on Saturday but everyone stays in to see Ronaldo's debut for Manchester United.

"The way it works here in the country is great for teams in lower leagues."

Since 1999, Gary Lineker has been the primary presenter of BBC Match of the Day.

"Eradicate gambling from our sport"

Peter Shilton, an ex-england goalkeeper, recently called for a change to gambling advertising in football. Shilton claimed that football shirts were a "backdoor" way to expose young people to gambling.

He signed a petition calling for the end of gambling sponsorship in football earlier this month with 12,000 others.

Lineker supports the campaign.

Lineker stated that he was not against gambling. Lineker said, "But I have had many people in mine who have been affected gambling and Peter Shilton was someone I tried to support with his campaign.

"I don’t mind people placing bets here and there, but the constant push to football through sponsorship and TV ads is hard because many people have problems with it."

"I support the efforts to eliminate gambling from our sport. I would love for the game's rules to be changed; I have said it many times.