Monday, 24 January 2011

Why Keys and Gray should face the music

Spec-tacular O-G: Gray and Keys face an anxious wait over their future

Richard Keys and Andy Gray made the front pages this week for sexist remarks made towards a female assistant referee.

The commentators, who believed their mics were turned off, questioned whether Sian Massey knew the offside rule during the Wolves v Liverpool game on Saturday.

Today the repercussions were felt, as Sky suspended the pair from presenting tonight’s Monday Night Football.

Their words are sickening, bigoted and wrong, but are they surprising?

Only last week, I was having lunch with a friend of mine who works for Sky, and he revealed Keys was a sexist git who was living in the stone-age.

And that is where the pair of them belong.

As much as it pains me to say, as for many years I have been a massive fan of Sky’s coverage – in particular Keys and Gray’s input – the pair must walk or be shown the door.

In the current age we live in, such comments are unacceptable and an example must be made of them.

Should the fact the pair are stalwarts of Sky Sports, Keys has been associated with the channel since 1990, mean an apology suffices?

And should the fact comments made by Sepp Blatter, President of FIFA, in which he suggested in 2004 female footballers should wear tighter shorts and low-cut shirts to attract more male fans, make such comments more acceptable?

The answer is of course not.

If the pair worked towards the bottom end of the Sky ladder and made such slurs, obviously the ripples would not be as significant, but a zero-tolerance policy would be in place and they would be shown the door.

The same must be applied for these two dinosaurs.

Can you image what kind of message it sends out to young football fans should the pair be reinstated following suspension?

I don’t have the figures, but there must be tens of thousands of kids who watch Sky’s coverage and take in their analysis and views.

Condoning the remarks by re-instating them would certainly be the wrong message, and Sky have a moral duty to terminate their contracts should they not walk.

Karen Brady was also targeted by Keys, and she was damning towards the pair today.

She told BBC Radio 5 Live: “It never would have occurred to me that they had those views whether public or private and I'm disappointed.

“It almost makes it worse that they're speaking when the microphones are not on as opposed to when they are on because they'd never really have the brass neck to say it publicly.”

Brady is known as the first lady of football since becoming managing director at Birmingham City in 1993 at just 23 years old, and is well placed to comment on the apparent sexism that exists within the game.

In a column she wrote for the Daily Mail last week, she said she had ‘experienced sexism at its rankest, lies about my personal life and a level of calculated mischief that is simply appalling’.

If this is the case, perhaps Keys’ and Gray’s comments are a mere drop in the ocean of an epidemic that needs to be uprooted, and fast.

For this to happen an example must be made, starting with this furore.

Since the mid 80s, Keys has forged a successful career in television presenting, starting with TV-am, a breakfast show on ITV.

In 1990, he became one of the presenters for The Sports Channel on British Satellite Broadcasting (BSB), before leaving ITV in December 1990 for the renamed Sky Sports.

Gray’s move into TV presenting has been a little less orthodox as, unlike Keys, he was a former professional footballer.

He won the League Cup with Aston Villa and Wolves, before success with Everton, where he won the League, FA Cup and the Cup Winners Cup in the mid 80s.

Since hanging up his boots, he has forged a successful career as both a presenter and a commentator with Sky, and this is the first real sneer he has been hit with.

Despite the two having relative success thus far, this story will end up haunting them long into 2011.

When a story such as this gathers momentum, especially in a relatively dry-news period such as this, there can only be one outcome.

Remember the Ross-Brand-Sachs scandal in the autumn of 2008? The public outcry to this was enough for Russell Brand to leave the country temporarily, for both to be suspended, and for Jonathan Ross to never quite recover his TV career.

Sky themselves have already proved they can be ruthless operators. Rodney Marsh made an ill-timed joke about the Tsunami that hit South-East Asia in January 2005.

On Gillette Soccer Saturday he quipped: “David Beckham has turned down a move to Newcastle United because of trouble with the Toon Army in Asia.”

He was promptly fired and has never worked for Sky since.

It remains to be seen who fills in for Keys and Gray tonight, but one thing is for certain, whoever it is should prepare to take over for good.


So, what was said?

Keys: “Somebody better get down there and explain offside to her.”
Gray: “Can you believe that? A female linesman. Women don’t know the offside rule.”
Keys: “Course they don’t. I can guarantee you there will be a big one today. Kenny (Liverpool manager Dalglish) will go potty. This isn’t the first time, is it? Didn’t we have one before?”
Later in the exchange…
Keys: “The game’s gone mad. Did you hear charming Karren Brady this morning complaining about sexism? Do me a favour, love.”

1 comment:

daniel said...

It cost Big Fat Ron his job, it even cost Big Fat Gordon Brown his job!

I remember going to Cov vs Wimbledon (proper Wimbledon) quite a few years back when there was a female linesm- I mean, assistant referee (you see: it's political correctness GONE MAD!)

She had to officiate in front of the sparsely populated away stand, who gave her no end of it. I sincerely hope she's still in the game and enjoying what she's doing, but if she's walked away, I wouldn't blame her at all - she was on the receiving end of some pretty nasty stuff.

And for the record, NO ONE understands the offside rule. I'm sure we had a moment on MOTD recently when Hansen was saying 'black' and Dixon was saying 'white', even though they had slo-mo and freeze frames to help them.