Before the Wolves-Liverpool game on Saturday, Sky (the main Premier League Broadcaster in the UK) presenter Richard Keys and analyst Andy Gray were heard making sexist comments about female Assistant Referee Sian Massey. Keys and Gray believed their mics were off when they made these comments.
Keys said ‘Somebody better get down there and explain offside to her.’ Andy Gray followed that by saying that female officials "don't know the offside rule" with Keys adding: "I can guarantee you there'll be a big one today. Kenny (Dalglish) will go potty."
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jV0oWNVG7Mw"]YouTube - Sky Sports' Andy Gray and Richard Keys make sexist comments[/ame]
Massey (a highly qualified official who knows more about the offside rule than Keys and Gray ever will) went on to make a crucial non-call in the first half, correctly judging that Raul Meireles was onside as he ran onto Christian Poulsen’s pass. Meireles ran into the box and squared for Torres to tap in.
Sky initially responded by ‘suspending’ Keys and Gray for the Bolton-Chelsea game. This was announced Monday morning, but on Sundays broadcast of the Blackburn-WBA game they announced that Sam Allardyce would be the analyst for the Bolton game. So to me it seems strange that if it was decided that Keys and Gray would be suspended, why didn’t Sky announce it on the Sunday, rather than waiting a day and letting the bad publicity build up? Or, maybe the ‘suspension’ was just a token one, as the pair weren’t due to be working anyway?
Sky have also disciplined touchline reporter Andy Burton for comments he made about Massey before the game.
Today, after a new video emerged showing Gray making lewd comments to Sky presenter Charlotte Jackson, it was announced that Gray had been fired with immediate effect. No decision as whether or not Keys will be fired has been taken at the time of writing.
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zuPMFvuYcvk"]YouTube - ANDY GRAY SEXISM TO CHARLOTTE JACKSON[/ame]
There was a good case for Gray and Keys to be fired after Saturday’s comments. After all, they insulted a match official on no other basis than gender. At the very least the two should have been made to issue a public apology, and maybe a suspension greater than a token game would have been appropriate. It is understood that Keys has apologised to Massey by phone.
Some people argued at the time that punishing Keys and Gray seemed harsh as they were only having a private conversation. I accept that they were having a private conversation but they were doing so in their workplace. If I was having such a conversation with a colleague and was overheard and reported, I would get disciplined for it, I’m sure the same would apply to most of you.
Football has long since ceased to be a ‘man’s game’. Thanks to the advent of all-seater stadiums and successful measures to reduce hooliganism and improve fan safety, football now appeals to the population as a whole. Go to a game and you will see plenty of women there. I know many women whose passion for and knowledge of football is as great as any man. So the attitudes expressed by Keys and Gray do not reflect the modern face of the game.
Keys and Gray have been the mainstays of Sky’s Premier League coverage since it started, over 20 years ago. They formed one of the best-known double-acts in football broadcasting, but recently they’d started to lose a bit of popularity. They were seen as a bit too secure in their jobs, earning huge amounts of money, and had become slightly smug.fficeffice" />
I doubt Gray will be badly missed by many, if any. He regularly topped ‘most unpopular pundit’ polls, which is difficult to do considering some of the idiots that work on British TV and radio. His analysis was tired and clichéd, he was perceived as completely biased towards certain teams and didn’t seem to be up-to-date with the rules.
There are some that are crying conspiracy over this. Andy Gray is currently in a legal battle with The News of the World over allegations that the newspaper was responsible for hacking his phone. The News of the World is a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp. Murdoch also owns Sky. As the videos that have caused Gray’s dismissal have been leaked by Sky some are putting two and two together.
I do think he’ll be back on our screens in the future. Unlike Ron Atkinson, I don’t think his offences are such that no broadcaster will want to go near him in the future. After the furore has died down, I expect that someone will want Gray as he is a high-profile analyst.
What do you think? Was it right to fire Gray? Should Keys go too?