Comments by Sky Sports presenter Richard Keys and pundit Andy Gray about assistant referee Sian Massey and West Ham Deputy Chairwoman Karen Brady this weekend highlight the problem that football in the UK has. Their off-air sexist remarks highlight outdated and out of touch views in the The Premier League, Championship and lower divisions. Dealing with them, will help give UK football a much needed rebrand.
Keys and Gray have been the leading commentators on Sky Sports since the channel’s inception in 1992. The game though has moved on since then. It’s become far most athletic and its audience has been more diverse, with many more women watching the game, if not on TV then at their chosen grounds. Yet for too long we have heard the views of these two out of touch pundits on how a physical presence is needed in games where fast flowing and thinking football is played.
Sadly though Sky Sports hasn’t kept apace with the changes in the game and in their audience and that has damaged how game it funds is perceived not just overseas, but by sponsors and advertisers that swell the channel's own coffers. Would advertisers pay for slots on Sky Sports when the way they present the game is outdated?
Keys and Gray have permeated views and made acceptable views that have not helped the English game develop. They are out of touch and certainly off-side.
Of course questions have to be asked as to how these recordings came to light, but it certainly looks like they were leaked. And this can only be a good thing.
Gordon Brown learned the hard way about how you are 'always on air when mic’d up.' And of course Richard Keys has previous for foot-in-mouth. Being in the media and being 'outted' to the pack must hurt, but it’s about time that Sky Sports does its job in presenting the game as one for all and not just for men.
Keys and Gray are not just one of the problems in how the game of football is perceived. New pundits that know about the modern game will help Sky resolve this PR nightmare that it finds itself in. Who knows, maybe washing your dirty laundry in public can be a good thing for Sky Sports and for the game.
This story is developing. Within hours of posting Sky Sports sack their Chief Pundit Andy Gray for comments he is alleged to have made in December while recording a Christmas special, which a dutiful PR has just leaked onto Youtube. Goodbye. See below: