Andy Gray and Richard Keys are ‘lads’ as some people would say. They are also clearly immature pathetic individuals. They got their comeuppance when there were leaks of videos of them talking about Sian Massay and then how Gray dealt with a female colleague. They disappeared from UK TV and are now presenting and commentating on Bein Sport in Dubai. They have disappeared from the public (or shall we say the football) consciousness for a good while now until last Saturday.
Last Saturday Andy Gray stepped into the commentary box alongside Ian Darke to call the Stevenage v Everton FA Cup game for BT Sport. Michael Owen was on holiday so Gray came in for a guest appearance. Now I know we’ve all come to realise how bad Michael Owen is in this role but having Andy Gray back alongside Ian Darke reminded us about what good co-commentary is. He was exceptional. Pairing him up with one of his two his long-time commentary partners in Ian Darke was a wise decision. It was like slipping on a very comfortable pair of jogging bottoms and slippers. The commentary was first rate. The sins of the past, whilst not forgotten, maybe forgiven. The general feedback was positive and doors were opened about Gray’s future and possible return to UK TV on a more permanent basis.
Step in another leak. This one comes from well over a decade ago and shows Andy Gray and Richard Keys singing ‘Get your tits out for the lads’ to Clare Tomlinson, who was at the time the main reporter for Sky Sports Football in the tunnel for the big games. You can watch the video below.
Now the timing of this leak is of course interesting. Just a few days after Andy Gray made a return to UK TV to overwhelming praise. This leak is clearly meant to derail any possibility of Andy Gray doing more work with BT. So the question is whether the leak is from the Sky hierarchy or whether it is a former colleague who was subjected to working with Gray during his time at Sky Sports. I’m relatively sure it is the latter.
The one thing though this video shows apart from how crass and vile these two men clearly are/were is that they were crass and vile for a long, long time. Sky obviously knew about it but they decided to ignore the problem. Either they chose to do so because they didn’t want to upset their talent or because they didn’t care. I suspect it is probably a bit from column A and a bit from column B.
Since Clare Tomlinson left her role as the touchline reporter for big games on Sky Sports, no women have played a key role in any of their major live sporting coverage as a presenter, commentator or reporter bar Georgie Thompson’s one year on Sky F1. Women have been involved in minor sports and in other roles but they’ve failed to break through in those big three roles. In all honesty Georgie might have been the right pick to front F1 instead of Simon Lazenby but they went for Lazenby. This is in vast contrast to the BBC where Gabby Logan, Hazel Irvine, Sue Barker and Clare Balding have all presented or still do present major live sporting events on the channel.
Sky clearly have a problem. I’m not saying they need to get rid of talent just to bring in women but they have to find better ways to bring through female talent in key roles. They clearly have talented women on staff with Sky Sports News. I am sure Hayley McQueen, Kirsty Gallacher, Sarah-Jane Mee and Natalie Sawyer to name a few could be excellent presenters on big live sporting events. I know they have had a little exposure in these roles but why don’t they get more?
I don’t want Jeff Stelling replaced in any capacity. I don’t want Ed Chamberlain replaced in any capacity. I don’t want David Gower replaced in any capacity. I don’t want Dave Clark replaced in any capacity. They are probably the four most well known front men sky have (Champions League, Soccer Saturday, Super Sunday, Monday Night Football, England Cricket, Darts, Boxing) but there are surely sports for these people to branch out from autocue readers on Sky Sports News. Dave Clark did, Simon Thomas did, Dave Jones did, so why haven’t any of the women?
I question the culture at Sky Sports and suspect it has been poor for many a year. This video shows someone knew (and I suspect everyone knew) how sexist and ugly the workplace was for women for many years. Nothing happened until videos started to get leaked. Had no-one leaked the Keys/Gray videos then I have no doubt they would both be at Sky. So I wonder what Sky Sports will do for women.
On the issue of Andy Gray then I’m completely torn. He is the best co-commentator on football we have. As much as I like Alan Smith, Jim Beglin and Gary Neville, Gray is the most natural in the business. BT have won Champions League rights from the 2015-2016 season and having Darke and Gray anchor their coverage would be a real good move. However the question of whether he is a changed man or not must play a factor. If he has then everyone deserves a second chance but if he hasn’t then the sexual objectivity he creates in the workplace is vastly more important than having a better pundit in the commentary box, even if it means putting up with the monotone and hapless Michael Owen for a few more years.
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