It's Wednesday 26th January, Sky Sports 1 is on and West Ham are playing Birmingham in the second leg of their Carling Cup Semi Final. A familiar voice is missing from the match this evening though, Andy Gray ex-Wolves & Everton striker was sacked by the satellite channel yesterday.
What started out as an off air exchange between Gray and his on & off screen mate Richard Keys, turned into front page headlines that rivalled the woman who put that cat in the wheelie bin.
The original sexist remarks against the female referee's assistant (and going by the definition of the word "discrimination or devaluation based on a person's sex", they were indeed sexist) while off air but with mics still turned on, could have been dealt with. An on air apology, maybe a prepared statement read out, these things normally do the trick and it all would have been swept under the carpet. But this "leaked" audio clip was then followed by another, this actually showed Gray this time making a lewd remark to fellow presenter Charlotte Jackson (again it appeared to be off air and during rehearsals). And this Sky decided, was too much and Gray was given his marching orders.
The central theme that kept on rearing it's ugly head during the whole series of events was that prickly subject of sexism, but in the second clip that got Gray the bullet he showed no sign of sexism at all! Lewd? yes! Pervy? yep! Dirty old man? Definitely! But in any workplace you will find this and having worked with the fairer sex on many an occasion I can say that it doesn't always come from the male! Plus anyone who's ever had the dubious honour of catching ITV's Loose Women will know......well! (sorry is that sexist?)
We all indulge in banter and whether Ms Jackson took exception to Gray's request and reported him we just don't know. Like the pundit himself may have said before in the event of a sending off, it's all about intent......
But the whole sorry mess that this has escalated into also stings of hypocrisy, Sky Television is of course owned by Rupert Murdoch who also owns The Sun newspaper, the very same newspaper that decided that they needed a picture of Sian Massey the lady in the middle of the story and so on it's front page printed one, of her dressed in a short skirt slightly the worse for wear at a party! And we all know what we find on page 3 every morning...
With most news stories there will always be conspiracy theories, Andy Gray was in the process of suing the News of the World (The Sun's sister newspaper) for alleged phone tapping. And with what amounted to in total four "leaked" clips (reporter Andy Burton describing Ms Massey as "a bit of a looker" again not actually sexist and another in which Keys did make a sexist remark by refering to Jamie Redknapp's ex girlfriend as "it") eventually being unearthed, along with Keys comments on "dark forces" at work before his eventual resignation, you can't help but think that they were either not liked within the corporation or Sky just wanted a shake up of the old guard and either way needed an excuse.
If anything, Gray & Keys are guilty of stupidity, you work on television, you're wearing a mic and the camera's are on you......hhhmmm let me think, should I maybe be careful about what I say just in case??