Monday 20 November 2017

Andy Gray to return to TV on BT Sport

Former Sky broadcaster Andy Gray
Former Sky broadcaster Andy Gray

Ben Rumsby

Andy Gray will return from the television wilderness on Saturday after BT Sport appointed the former Sky Sports analyst to commentate on a live game for the first time since he was sacked by BSkyB.

It is understood that, three years to the day since Gray and presenter Richard Keys were ousted as the faces of Sky’s football coverage after being caught up in a sexism storm, the Scot will provide co-commentary for BT Sport’s coverage of Stevenage’s FA Cup fourth round tie against Everton.

It is understood the decision to appoint Gray, widely credited with reinventing football punditry in Britain during almost 20 years at Sky, is part of a wider strategy to build a relationship with Middle East network beIN Sports, formerly Al Jazeera Sport.

Keys and Gray quit the UK for Qatar last summer to front Al Jazeera Sport’s Premier League coverage, while they continue to host a talkSPORT show from Doha having been snapped up by the broadcaster upon leaving Sky.

BT Sport’s appointment of Gray for Saturday’s 5.30pm kick-off is currently on a one-off basis but it could lead to further appearances on the new network.

And if his UK TV return alone fails to create shockwaves at his former employers at Sky, a blossoming relationship between BT Sport and a broadcaster whose financial muscle dwarfs even that of its bitter rival just might.

There have been rumours beIN Sports are looking to break into the UK market and could eventually make a bid for the rights to Premier League football.

How a relationship with BT would affect that is unclear but having been blown out of the water by the telecommunications giant in the battle for the Champions League TV rights from 2015 back in November, Sky has every reason to be nervous about what the future may hold.

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