Sexism row: Sky Sports presenter Richard Keys joins Andy Gray for an early bath
Sky Sports football presenter Richard Keys finally resigned last night after his extraordinary attempt to save his job by publicly apologising for a series of sexist remarks ended in him damning his own employer with references to the work of “dark forces”.
His lengthy interview on the radio station TalkSport became the audio equivalent of a very long resignation letter in which he also slated his bosses at BSkyB for not having publicised the fact that he had apologised to Sian Massey, the assistant referee who had been the target for some of his comments.
“There are some dark forces at work here,” he told listeners.
With his career hanging in the balance, Keys (53) had begun the day with an interview on his lawn with ITV News.
“I'm on my way into London now to start apologising to the people that I need to,” he said.
But rather than beg forgiveness to Britain's women he decided to make his confession to TalkSport, best known for its appeal to white-van men.
Asked why he had chosen TalkSport, he responded: “I listen to you guys all the time, this is the best place, I felt, for me to come and be allowed the time to say what I think.”
He pointed out that: “I don't have an agent, I don't have a spin- doctor, I don't tweet, I don't have blogs or websites.”
As an exercise in how not to limit the damage of what Keys himself described as “a firestorm”, the presenter's handling of the issue will be taught on public relations courses for years to come.
After details of his scornful comments to co-presenter Andy Gray about Ms Massey's incomprehension of the offside rule were leaked to The Mail on Sunday, a series of damaging clips of sexism have emerged on YouTube. All were pieces of off-air footage.
The clips were enough to do for Gray, the former Scotland striker and foremost pundit on Sky Sports.
With Gray having a legal action running against The News of the World (owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, the biggest shareholder in BSkyB), it was speculated that he had been punished from on-high. Could these have been Keys's “dark forces”?
While Gray was sacked, Keys was allowed to stay on, apparently considered less dispensable as the ubiquitous anchor of much of Sky's football output.
A former breakfast television presenter, he has been with Sky Sports since 1992 covering the broadcaster’s British football.
But when a fourth clip emerged showing Keys crudely discussing a woman — describing her as “it” — in an off-air moment, the writing was on the wall.
After further discussions with his bosses last night the presenter decided to quit. It seems Keys was dispensable after all.