Belfast Telegraph

Video: New footage puts pressure on sexism row Sky presenter Richard Keys

Sky Sports was last night facing calls to axe football presenter Richard Keys after earlier sacking his colleague Andy Gray over a number of sexist remarks made off air but caught on tape.

The focus shifted back on Keys after new footage of him making inappropriate comments to Jamie Redknapp before a game surfaced on the internet.

Keys is heard seemingly making sexual references during a conversation with Redknapp as they sat in a studio before a broadcast.

Former players Graeme Souness and Ruud Gullit were also present during the clip, which appeared on YouTube.

In the footage, Keys refers to a woman as "it" and twice asks the former Liverpool and Spurs player if he "smashed it",

Andy Gray was sacked after off-air comments made by the pundit came into the public domain for the third time in three days. The latest video showed the 55-year-old saying something suggestive to fellow presenter Charlotte Jackson.

The footage was circulated two days after a recording in which Gray and colleague Richard Keys made controversial comments about assistant referee Sian Massey.

The release of the new material prompted the termination of Gray's reported £1.7million-per-year contract, 24 hours after he and Keys had been disciplined for their remarks about Massey.

Lawyers Schillings said tonight they had been instructed by Gray over his dismissal.

Sky Sports reporter Andy Burton was also sanctioned this afternoon after footage emerged yesterday of him and Gray commenting on Massey's appearance.

Announcing the departure of Gray, who has been one of the faces of the broadcaster's live Barclays Premier League coverage since it began almost 20 years ago, Sky Sports said in a statement: "Sky Sports today terminated its contract with Andy Gray.

"The decision, which is effective immediately, was made in response to new evidence of unacceptable and offensive behaviour.

"The new evidence, relating to an off-air incident that took place in December 2010, came to light after Andy Gray had already been subjected to disciplinary action for his comments of 22nd January 2011."

The new footage, which was recorded last month but only came to light in the last 24 hours, shows Gray lifting his belt while Jackson is attaching her microphone pack.

He says: "Charlotte, can you tuck this down here for me."

Jackson can be briefly seen smiling, while Gray and Keys burst out laughing.

Sky Sports managing director Barney Francis said: "Andy Gray's contract had been terminated for unacceptable behaviour.

"After issuing a warning yesterday, we have no hesitation in taking this action after becoming aware of new information."

Lawyers Schillings said in a statement: "We have been instructed by Andy Gray in relation to the termination of his contract by BSkyB.

"It would be inappropriate for our client to comment at this time."

Professional Game Match Officials announced that they had withdrawn 25-year-old Massey from tonight's npower League Two match between Crewe and Bradford, where she had been due to run the line.

PGMO general manager Mike Riley said: "PGMO and Sian believe that, with any football match, the focus should not be on the officials but on the players and the game itself.

"Sian is an excellent professional who has unwittingly found herself in the middle of a story that has nothing to do with her competence as a match official.

"Sian only wants to be notable for her performance as an assistant referee and is keen for things to get back to normal so she can return to officiating as soon as possible.

"Sian has the full backing of PGMO and we hope she continues her development, which has shown excellent progress so far.

"It is important for PGMO to have talented people from all backgrounds getting involved in refereeing."

Reporter Burton was earlier disciplined for describing Massey as a "bit of a looker" in an off-air, but nevertheless recorded, conversation with Gray prior to Saturday's Premier League game between Wolves and Liverpool.

Burton was stood down from tomorrow night's Carling Cup semi-final second leg between Birmingham and West Ham.

That followed Sky Sports' decision to remove Gray and Keys from duty for last night's Premier League game between Bolton and Chelsea after both were recorded questioning Massey's appointment for the Wolves game, claiming women "don't understand the offside rule".

Sky Sports declined to comment this morning on when or if Keys - who like Gray has been an employee for two decades - would be back fronting their football coverage.

His next presenting opportunity would appear to be the Premier League match between West Brom and Wigan on Tuesday week.

Keys telephoned Massey on Sunday night to apologise on behalf of himself and Gray for their remarks, an apology she accepted.

It was not known this afternoon whether Burton would elect to - or be forced to - make a similar apology and neither was it known whether Keys had apologised to West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady, who he also disparaged on Saturday for suggesting sexism was rife in the game.

Brady said Keys and Gray's comments about Massey made her "blood boil" and further condemnation followed from anti-discrimination groups and famous faces from within the game.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that the Football Association switchboard was inundated with calls yesterday from women inquiring about becoming officials.

Rodney Marsh, who was sacked by Sky six years ago after making a joke about the Asian tsunami during a live broadcast, believes the video tape will haunt Gray forever.

He told BBC Radio Five Live: "In my case it was something I said. In this case it's the video tape.

"The video tape that is out there is so destructive and so devastating. I don't know who would have put that out there on the internet.

"When you have that 10-second video clip, it's indelible in your mind."

Marsh feels Gray should look to the future now rather than ponder on what has happened.

"I don't think you should go back," he said. "I don't think that's a positive thing. You get the sack, you're away for a year or two and you move on with your life. I don't believe in going back - that's only my personal opinion.

"I've always been one of those people that you take it on the chin, you make a mistake, you say something a little bit dopey, you get fired and then you move on with your life."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph