The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has handed out hundreds of free Wimbledon tickets to its staff, sports executives, PRs, and politicians on all 13 days of the championships.
According to The Sun, 299 free passes were handed out to this year’s tournament, equating to the vast majority of seats on the centre court. Meanwhile, tennis fans had to queue overnight or wait hours in advance at the grounds of the All England Club to score tickets.
Those that received free passes included a partner of the accountant firm Deloitte – who earns around £700,000-a-year, and Colin Graves, chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board and founder of Costcutter chain, who is worth around £100 million. The BBC Group Commercial Director, who is paid £316,000-a-year, also received a free pass to the women’s final competition.
The BBC has held exclusive broadcasting rights to the tournament since 1927, and as part of the deal, the broadcaster receives hundreds of centre court and number one tickets. While the BBC admitted that their guests were permitted to give away their tickets, 43 of the passes were handed out to their staff as a “reward for excellence.”
Wimbledon fans expressed their concerns about the free passes that were given out.
And how many more freebies do they get that we don’t know about? Greed knows no bounds. Could have passed them on to a charity, Help for Heroes perhaps.#bbc
— Grumpy Gertie (@Christi02463358) August 26, 2018
“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,” Campaign Manager of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said.
Additionally, Tory MP Andrew Bridgen noted that free passes should be given to vulnerable or disabled children “rather than wealthy executives who can afford to buy their own.”
However, the BBC said it is standard practice to use some of its free tickets for business purposes. A spokesman for BBC told The Sun, “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.”
The Wimbledon tournament took place from July 2 through July 15. Next year’s event is scheduled to run from July 1 to July 14, 2019.