Tuesday 16 January 2018

'A scandalous response to a nothing comment' - Gary Neville weighs in on Rachel Riley's Sky fallout

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Former Manchester United defender and Sky Sports football pundit Gary Neville has said that Rachel Riley's omission from Sky Sports' Friday Night Football next season has not been helped by other presenters in the TV world 'sticking the knife in'.

Riley will not present Friday Night Football next season after deciding to walk away from the role following her omission from the broadcast of Chelsea's title clinching visit to West Bromwich Albion last season.

Riley, who had presented the show alongside Jeff Stelling last season, was dropped for the show's final game of the season just seven days after describing Tottenham's 1-0 defeat to West Ham United as a 'bottle job', with Spurs defeat at Olympic Park essentially allowing Chelsea the opportunity to build up an unassailable 10-point lead.

Neville tweeted in relation to Matt Hughes' original report in The Times on Wednesday that Riley's revelations of personal abuse was 'a scandalous response to a nothing comment. Not helped by other presenters in the TV world sticking the knife in!'

Sky were reportedly willing to offer Riley a new contract to present the show again next season but she has instead decided to pursue other opportunities after revealing that she was subject to "hideous personal absue" following her comments about Spurs title collapse.

Riley tweeted: "Didn’t mean any offence to Spurs or their fans tonight just a surprise to slip v WHam with their form on paper. Personal abuse is hideous."

Riley followed up her original tweet with a series of tweets clarifying her comments concerning the Spurs' loss.

"For the record I didn’t say Spurs are bottle jobs but tonight’s game was a test of nerve. WH hadn’t beaten any of the top 6 in the PL 1/3.

"This season & after a great run to slip now is disappointing for Spurs. As a MUFC fan neutral in the title run closer would’ve been 2/3.

"More interesting. I love football, always have, always will, banter is fun, abuse is not whoever/whatever/wherever #respect."

Sky were only able to fill six of the 10 slots they received last season for Friday Night Football  with policing restrictions and the European commitments of several clubs causing scheduling problems.

Sky currently pay more than £11m to broadcast each Premier League game with the broadcaster's current contribution to last year's record £5.14bn (€5.82bn) TV deal standing at £4.2bn (€4.76), an 83% increase on what the company paid in the previous round of rights sales in 2013.

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