Friday 22 September 2017

Keys quits Sky Sports over sexism row

Richard Keys on 'TalkSport'. He and Andy Gray have left Sky Sports following the comments about Sian Massey
Richard Keys on 'TalkSport'. He and Andy Gray have left Sky Sports following the comments about Sian Massey
Sacked: Andy Gray
Sian Massey, the match official at the centre of the Sky controversy

Martin Evans

Richard Keys, the Sky Sports presenter embroiled in the football sexism row, resigned last night after claiming that "dark forces" had been stoking the furore surrounding him and his colleague Andy Gray.

He said their behaviour was simply "a bit of fun" that had gone wrong. Keys (53) admitted that their remarks about the female assistant referee Sian Massey were "prehistoric banter". But he said he and Gray had simply been "misguidedly having a bit of fun".

Last night Keys said in a statement released by Sky Sports: "I am deeply sorry for my remarks and the offence they have caused; it was wrong and should not have happened. I have thought long and hard and reached the decision that it is time to move on.

"Going forward without Andy would have been almost impossible. I am and will remain proud of our work with football at Sky Sports and grateful to the many people who have worked with me."

Earlier the presenter told 'TalkSport' radio in England that he had already apologised to Ms Massey, but his employer prevented him from making details of the apology public.

The row occurred after off-air comments were leaked in which Keys and Gray claimed female officials did not understand the offside rule.

Gray (55), a former Scotland international footballer, was sacked from his £1.7m (€1.97m) a year contract on Tuesday after further evidence of offensive behaviour emerged. New footage showed Gray laughing as he asked a female colleague to help him tuck his microphone into his trousers.

Both he and Keys issued public apologies yesterday for their comments. Keys said: "Our prehistoric banter is not acceptable in a modern world. We were wrong.

"There is a firestorm raging out there and it's been very difficult to step into the middle of it, to try and get across the way I am feeling.

"I rang (Sian Massey) on behalf of Andy and myself. I made it an official apology, which she accepted. We enjoyed some banter and left it on good terms. I expressed my disappointment that Andy and I had misguidedly, in having a little fun, got it wrong."

Keys told of "dark forces" behind the row. Gray has begun legal action against the 'News of the World', owned by Rupert Murdoch, a major Sky shareholder.

"On the Sunday I asked if we could make people aware of the fact that we had a conversation (with Massey) and both parties felt it was best simply to move on," Keys said.

Remarks

"I don't know why I was stopped from telling people that is what I had done."

Keys also said he had tried to apologise to Karren Brady, the West Ham United vice-chairman, over remarks he made to Gray, but had failed to get through.

A statement released by Gray read: "I am very sorry that certain comments made by me have caused offence. Such comments were made off-air to work colleagues, and were, of course, never intended to be broadcast. Football is my life and I am devastated by losing the job that I love."

Irish Independent

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