English Premiership

'Sexist' pundit Gray sacked

2011-01-26 11:30
Andy Gray (File)

London - Former Everton and Scotland striker Andy Gray was sacked from his highly-paid role as a television pundit for Sky Sports on Tuesday after his sexist comments about a female assistant referee.

VIDEO: Andy Gray's sexist comment

Gray's contract, reported to be worth 1.7 million pounds-a-year, was terminated with immediate effect following his involvement in two separate incidents.

Former Aston Villa star Gray and Sky's main presenter Richard Keys, believing their microphones to be switched off, made controversial remarks about lineswoman Sian Massey ahead of a Premier League match between Wolves and Liverpool on Saturday.

They both claimed that female officials did not know the offside rule.

Gray was heard talking to Keys and saying: "Can you believe that? A female linesman. That's exactly what I said. Women don't know the offside rule."

Footage was also leaked of Gray making further comments about Massey in a separate pre-match discussion with a Sky reporter, who was disciplined for claiming he had been told she was a "bit of a looker".

Gray and Keys - who has been in trouble before with remarks made off air but caught on microphone - were both dropped from Monday's TV coverage of the Bolton v Chelsea fixture, with Keys said to have telephoned the official to apologise.

Gray's sacking was also linked to a similar incident in December over a lewd comment made to Sky Sports News presenter Charlotte Jackson. Referring to his microphone, he held his trousers and said: "Charlotte, can you tuck this down here for me?".

In a statement, Sky Sports announced Gray was dismissed "in response to new evidence of unacceptable and offensive behaviour" following an "off-air incident that took place in December 2010".

Barney Francis, Managing Director of Sky Sports, said: "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 (Tuesday)."

Along with Keys, Gray has been the face of Sky Sports' coverage of the Premier League since the company bought the rights to televise English football's top division in 1992.

Plymouth Argyle manager Peter Reid, a friend of Gray and a former Everton team-mate, told BBC Radio 4's PM that he suspected the sacking may be linked to the fact that Gray is pursuing legal action in relation to alleged phone-hacking by the News of the World - a subsidiary of News Corporation, which owns a large stake in BSkyB and is seeking to purchase the whole company.

Gray has gone to the High Court in an attempt to force private investigator Glenn Mulcaire to reveal which News of the World journalists asked him to hack into their phones.

Gray's mobile number, password and pin were found in notebooks seized during a police raid on Mulcaire's home in 2006, the court heard last week.

Reid said: "He has got lawyers involved with the phone-hacking at News International. I did think of linking the two things.

"The comments weren't great, but I think it was a joke and I have got a feeling they might be linked in some way."

Meanwhile, Professional Games Match Officials confirmed that Massey had been withdrawn from Tuesday's League Two game between Crewe and Bradford where she was due to act as an assistant referee.

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