Gray sacked for 'offensive behaviour'

Andy Gray (far left) poses for photographs alongside Jamie Redknapp, Ruud Gullit and Richard Keys before the world's first live 3D television broadcast last year. Photograph: Christopher Lee/Getty Images

Andy Gray (far left) poses for photographs alongside Jamie Redknapp, Ruud Gullit and Richard Keys before the world's first live 3D television broadcast last year. Photograph: Christopher Lee/Getty Images

Tue, Jan 25, 2011, 00:00

Soccer:Andy Gray was sacked by Sky Sports today after footage emerged of the presenter appearing to make an inappropriate remark to a female colleague. The footage came into the public domain two days after Gray was recorded making controversial comments about assistant referee Sian Massey.

Gray had his contract terminated following the release of the new footage, 24 hours after he and fellow presenter Richard Keys were disciplined for their remarks about Massey. Sky Sports reporter Andy Burton was also disciplined this afternoon after footage emerged of him and Gray commenting on Massey’s appearance. He loses a job that reportedly earned him almost €2 million per year.

Announcing the departure of Gray, who has been one of the faces of the broadcaster’s live football coverage since it began almost 20 years ago, Sky Sports said in a statement: “Sky Sports today terminated its contract with Andy Gray. The decision, which is effective immediately, was made in response to new evidence of unacceptable and offensive behaviour.

“The new evidence, relating to an off-air incident that took place in December 2010, came to light after Andy Gray had already been subjected to disciplinary action for his comments of 22nd January 2011.”

The new footage, which was recorded last month but only came to light in the last 24 hours, appears to show Gray making a suggestive comment towards colleague Charlotte Jackson, who does not openly react while he and Keys then burst out laughing. New footage was shown on Sky News today of Gray asking Jackson to help him tuck his microphone into his trousers.

Managing director Barney Francis added: “Andy Gray’s contract had 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.”

Burton was stood down from tomorrow night’s League Cup semi-final second leg match between Birmingham and West Ham after footage emerged of him referring to Massey as a “bit of a looker”.

Keys and Gray were dropped from last night’s line-up for the match between Bolton and Chelsea after their off-air remarks were leaked. The pair agreed that female officials “don’t know the offside rule” and predicted Massey would drop a clanger during Wolves’ home game against Liverpool on Saturday. She ended up correctly calling a crucial borderline decision.

Meanwhile, Massey has withdrawn from running the line at tonight’s English League Two match between Crewe and Bradford.