Tuesday, 25 January 2011
Andy Gray sacked over sexist comments to female official
Top football analyst Andy Gray has been sacked by Sky Sports over the sexism scandal that has rocked English football.
The television pundit lost his £1.7million-a-year job for comments aimed at assistant referee Sian Massey, one of three female Premier League officials.
Barney Francis, the managing director of Sky Sports, said in a statement last night: “Andy Gray’s contract has been terminated for unacceptable behaviour. After issuing a warning yesterday, we have no hesitation in taking this action after becoming aware of new information today.”
Sky News have suspended reporter Andy Burton for his role in the second batch of leaked footage which emerged yesterday.
Analyst Gray and anchorman Richard Keys were suspended for Monday night’s coverage of Chelsea’s win at Bolton after off-the-air comments made on Sky Sports emerged.
Burton has now been stood down from his duties at tomorrow’s Carling Cup semi-final second leg between Birmingham and West Ham. The new footage, also recorded on Saturday before Wolves played Liverpool, shows Gray in conversation with Burton.
A crew member refers to Massey and Gray is heard saying: “I can see her from here. What do women know about the offside rule?”
Keys and Gray were already fighting to keep their jobs before sister channel Sky News provided more damning evidence yesterday.
Earlier footage showed Keys and Gray, a former Scotland international striker, speaking before the kick off. Keys said: “Somebody better get down there and explain offside to her”.
Gray replied: “I know, can you believe that? A female linesman.”
Keys later added: “The game’s gone mad.”
Later he said: “Did you hear charming Karren Brady [the West Ham vice-chairman] this morning complaining about sexism? Do me a favour, love.”
Donna Cullen, a director of Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur, said Massey was officiating a Premier League match “on merit”.
“She would have come up through the system and her superiors would have thought she was the right person for the job. Why would they doubt her?” Cullen said.
“In a male-dominated sport you are always going to get the odd remark, but in more than 20 years of working in football, I cannot say sexist remarks like that have ever been an issue for me.
“I believe I am treated as an honorary male in football, and I don’t believe being female has anything to do with my work.”
Although Massey is one of only three female officials at the top level, over 20,000 women have successfully attained FA coaching qualifications, according to the English Football Association.
According to FA statistics, the number of women playing organised football in England stands at 150,000.
Didn't use the picture above to illustrate the story when I wrote it for The National in Abu Dhabi tonight. But thought it kind of works. If you're Andy Gray. Today's sacking is a major victory for women in sport.