I almost felt a little bit sorry for Gabby Logan on Saturday morning.
The much-loved BBC presenter was in relaxed mode on Radio Five Live's light-hearted Fighting Talk programme, traditionally a mixture of sport and comedy, when the Jonathan Rea controversy was thrown at her.
Well-briefed and fully-prepared for an in-depth discussion on the six-time World Superbike champion’s omission from her organisation’s Sports Personality of the Year award, she would no doubt have been a little more diplomatic and much more careful with her choice of words.
But then, on the other hand, the fact that those feelings came out in a potentially guard-down moment is precisely the point for his legions of supporters in Northern Ireland and the motorcycling fraternity beyond.
"He got on the podium, didn't he?” she said, harking back to the 2017 SPOTY, when Rea nearly upset the odds (originally rated as a 200/1 outsider) to win the title, finishing runner-up to Mo Farah.
“He was very close, dangerously close to winning it that year," Logan continued, replying to Irish comedian Neil Delamere, who had put Rea’s name forward as the ‘cert’ that should be on this year’s shortlist. "It's a good answer, it's a niche answer though. It's a very, very local answer I feel. It's kind of regional."
First of all, ‘dangerously’? A danger to the BBC’s England (London)-centric in-crowd? I’m not saying that’s what she meant but it’s how it could be easily construed by Rea’s supporters who feel there’s something more than a little unfair about his three-year omission since that 2017 close-shave.
Remember that the very next year, back in 2018, the goalposts were shifted. No longer would the shortlist be announced in advance, halting the potential for a group of supporters to organise behind their favourite, as had been the case for Rea and the 80,567 people who cast a cast for him in 2017 – only 2,957 ballots behind the victorious Farah.
It was a move that could have been “seen as an attack on under-represented sports”, according to former MCN editor Marc Potter at the time, although the BBC insisted contenders would be announced on the night “to add another layer of excitement and anticipation”.
That rule has now been thrown by the wayside, as it happens.
So Gabby Logan may well have been caught on the hop on Saturday morning, but her words betrayed what some feel is the truth behind the matter; that the BBC aren’t fussed on ‘niche’ or ‘regional’ sports stars upsetting the applecart at SPOTY.
It’s for that reason her words will so rankle with those ‘very, very local’ people who pay the same £157.50 license fee as the presumably not-so-regional viewers in the UK capital.
What exactly is ‘regional’ about the WORLD Superbike Championship anyway?
"If Guy Martin bought a moped, Channel 4 would do a documentary on him for about an hour,” said Delamere of the, crucially, English road-racing hero to emphasise the point.
I don’t think Gabby Logan, or anyone at the BBC, is actively against sports stars from Northern Ireland or other far flung parts of the United Kingdom.
But perhaps her off-guard remarks betray an underlying, subconscious reality.
"What does that man have to do on a motorbike to be nominated?" Delamere asked.
Hold an England flag?