Belfast Telegraph

Billy on the Box: Take a bow, boys ... as Sky falls in on football

Shame on you. All the great strides that have been made by football over the years to put it in its true light and you go and ruin it all.

No, not Richard Keys and Andy Gray, that Clarke Carlisle one appearing on Question Time and letting the whole side down by being articulate and intelligent and when he was talking Balls it was simply about Ed.

Never mind the fact that the world’s long-term future is about as rosy as Keys and Gray’s. No-one is over the moon that at the end of the day everyone is giving 110 per cent to keep the economy afloat, Australia is literally afloat and swine flu has everyone as sick as parrots, but the real issue is two blokes being blokes and being caught in the act.

While Keys was given a yellow card after a quick grovel, Andy was given a red after another misdemeanour suddenly ‘found’ its way into the public domain after a bit of smutty chat OFF-AIR with Charlotte Jackson.

Hold on, a quick rummage and someone pulled out another red thing and the door was slammed shut on dirty Dick. No Keys required.

Now, I’m a fan of Ms. Jackson, as are most males (for her journalistic capabilities obviously), but with Sky suddenly becoming the flag-bearer of women’s rights I’m sure they will tell the bevy of beauties they employ on Sky Sports News to glam down and I await the arrival of Jo Brand beside Jim White.

It’s going to be difficult from now on. Manchester United will become Personofverymuchequalstandingchester United and just pray that One Man and His Dog stays on BBC2 as I don’t think we’re quite ready for One Woman and Her Bitch which conjures up all sorts of images.

I mean, this is a huge issue in the grand scheme of things, warranting more coverage than war, terrorism and natural disasters. Any wonder then it has brought comment from the likes of the Loose Women, Kelly Dalglish and Graham Poll, so when intellectual heavyweights like that are wheeled out we’re lucky that Gray and Keys haven’t been flogged. Just as well the transfer window shuts soon.

By the way, for any little ladies reading, don’t be reaching for the Windolene, it’s not a real window. I’m joking by the way, don’t birch me.

Could we all just catch a grip here and get this thing in perspective. The initial comments they made OFF-AIR were leaked by someone, who by now, used to work for Sky, or, if you believe the conspiracy theorists are now doing very well at Sky.

It was stupid but no worse than has happened and will continue to happen in banter-filled workplaces across the land, but does it really warrant the coverage it has been getting?

Sian Massey is the linesperson at the centre of the controversy and given how much Sky smarm around a man called Ferguson, it’s no surprise that someone called Massey was judged off limits.

My main gripe is that the moral majority point to Liverpool’s opening goal as proof that she got it right despite the fact they were talking before this actually happened. So she does know the offside rule, big deal, it’s her job and she does it well. End of story.

Was what they stupidly said any worse than the Loose Women drooling about Becks’ pecs?

Let’s face it referees and linesfolk are human and will make mostly correct decisions and some bad ones and how they visit the lavatory shouldn’t come into it.

Graham Poll having a pop is simply ridiculous, mind you he’s always popular with the ladies with the way he dishes out cards, while Kelly Dalglish hit back with venom.

“Phew am exhausted,” she wrote on Twitter. “Just read about something called 'the offside rule’. Too much for my tiny brain. Must be damaged from nail polish fumes.”

This coming from the woman who famously once asked Ryan Babel ‘were you pleased to score?’. Any wonder he’s off to Germany where that type of questioning will prepare him if the Gestapo turn up.

Richard and Andy, you will be missed, and I’m sure ESPN are rubbing their hands in eager anticipation of your arrival.

We can all look forward to some eye candy now in Ben Shephard and Jamie Redknapp while I look forward to the next Super Sunday offering on Sky with Germaine Greer and Emily Pankhurst at the helm.

Belfast Telegraph

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