BBC director of sport Barbara Slater is set to RETIRE

BBC director of sport Barbara Slater is set to RETIRE after 40 years with the organisation – less than six months after she came under fire for the broadcaster’s handling of the Gary Lineker crisis

  • Barbara Slater has revealed she will quit as the BBC’s director of sport next year 
  • Slater was in charge when Gary Lineker was taken off air by the corporation
  • The 64-year-old came under fire for the broadcaster’s handling of the situation 

Barbara Slater, the BBC’s first female director of sport, has announced she will retire from the corporation less than six months after the Gary Lineker crisis.

Slater – who has worked for the BBC for 40 years – will quit in the spring of next year and bring to an end more than 14 years of service in her current role.

The 64-year-old was in charge during the Lineker saga when the Match of the Day presenter was taken off air for publicly denouncing the government’s immigration policy. 

This led to star names such as Ian Wright, Alan Shearer and Mark Chapman also boycotting BBC programmes that weekend in one of the biggest sagas to engulf the corporation.

While it was the BBC’s director general Tim Davie who ultimately suspended Lineker, Slater came under fire for the way the crisis was handled.

BBC director of sport Barbara Slater has announced she will quit her role in spring next year

Slater was in charge when the Gary Lineker crisis unfolded fewer than six months ago in March

Mail Sport reported at the time how insiders disclosed a ‘huge rift’ in the department, with some outraged by the way the debacle played out and a snap poll seen by Mail Sport revealing overwhelming contempt for bosses. 

Mail Sport also understood that furious staff members confronted Slater over the way bosses dealt with the saga at a series of highly uncomfortable meetings.

The poll, presented to Slater, saw 80 per cent of respondents rate senior management zero out of five for the way they handled the situation.

There was also open incredulity at Slater when she claimed bosses could ‘not have seen how it would spiral’ after a host of pundits refused to work and brought the broadcaster to its knees after Lineker’s suspension.

Criticism of Lineker was voiced, with Slater asked if he and other pundits were aware of the effect of their actions on staff.

Some also questioned why Match of the Day, which ended up being shown over 20, commentary-less minutes, could not have been presented by someone else. Slater, who apologised for the mess, triggered further ire when she responded: ‘Because he (Lineker) is the best in the business.’

Slater came under fire from those at the BBC for the way the Lineker saga was handled

Lineker was taken off air after he publicly denounced the government’s immigration policy 

Fury at a lack of leadership and communication was also raised, with many staff left in the dark until the last minute over whether shows would go ahead or not. Slater, who wanted the meetings to remain confidential, added she had ‘nothing but regret’ over events.

Slater – who was awarded an OBE in 2014 for services to sports broadcasting – was appointed as director of sport in 2009, with the BBC overseeing large progress in various areas during her time in charge, particularly in regards to women’s sport.

After her departure was announced, Slater said: ‘It was this week 40 years ago that I first walked through the doors at Broadcasting House. A career in BBC Sport has been an absolute passion, never just a job. 

‘Since joining in 1983 I’ve been privileged to have had such amazing opportunities and the delight of working with such talented colleagues and partners. There are a huge number of people to thank, and so many magical memories to reflect upon.’

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