BBC handed hundreds of free tickets worth thousands to its own staff at Wimbledon

Bosses doled out 299 free passes – the vast majority on centre court – while tennis fans had to queue overnight or wake up in the early hours to get into the grounds of the All England Club.

Those given free centre court passes included a partner at accountancy firm Deloitte – who typically earn around £700,000-a-year – PRs at super-rich Premier League football clubs, agents to sports stars and FA bosses.

Labour MPs Toby Perkins and Kevin Brennan also enjoyed a free day out on centre court on the Beeb, as did Tory Helen Grant who in her former role as sports minister failed to answer five simple questions in a sports quiz in 2013 – including who the current women’s Wimbledon tennis champion was.

Free passes were given away on all 13 days of the championships.

By contrast, for those paying, a centre court ticket for this year's men's final between Novak Djokovic and Kevin Anderson cost £210, while one for the semi-final was £170.

Those who attended the final on a free ticket courtesy of the Beeb included Colin Graves, chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board, and founder of the Costcutter chain, who is worth around £100million; Greg Clarke, who is chairman of the FA, FTSE 250 company Redefine International and a string of private equity-owned firms; and entertainment agent Michael Cohen who represents the likes of Shane Warne.

Bal Samra, BBC Group Commercial Director, who is paid £316,000-a-year, received a free pass for the women's final the previous day.


BBC staff who received freebies included Bal Samra, BBC Group Commercial Director, who is paid £316,000-a-year, who attended the women's final for free.

Other BBC journalism managers who were given a freebie included Jon Zilkha, Controller of News Channels (£144,500); Bob Shennan, Director of BBC Radio and Music (£271,000); Mark Linsey, Director of BBC Studios (£340,000); and Jonathan Munro, Head of Newsgathering (£166,000).

In addition, 43 staff got freebies as a "reward for excellence."

A further 423 BBC employees got a ticket in exchange for making a donation to charity.

The BBC has held the exclusive broadcasting rights to the tournament since 1927.

As part of the deal – which is worth more than £20million a year – the broadcaster receives hundreds of centre court and number one tickets.

The BBC admitted guests were permitted to give away their tickets, raising the possibility they could have found their way into the hands of black-market touts.

Forty-three of the tickets were doled out by the Beeb to their staff as a “reward for excellence.”

And 423 BBC employees were given a free ticket in exchange for making a donation to charity.

Critics hit out at the BBC for the freebies.

Harry Fone, campaign manager at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: "Tickets are well out of reach for many hard-pressed families, so pleas about cuts to the Corporation's budget may be met with little sympathy.”

Tory MP Andrew Bridgen said free passes should instead be given to vulnerable or disabled children rather than wealthy executives who can afford to buy their own.

The BBC said it was standard practice to use some of its free tickets for business purposes and said there was no cost to the licence-fee payer.

A spokesman told the Sun Online: “We don’t provide hospitality, and they are used as an opportunity to discuss business or to demonstrate first-hand one of the biggest events BBC Sport delivers.”

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