Keys resigns from Sky Sports role

Wed, Jan 26, 2011, 00:00

Soccer:Richard Keys has quit as Sky’s football anchorman after claiming that “dark forces” were at work in the sexism scandal that had already cost fellow presenter Andy Gray his job.

Keys today apologised for making the disparaging remarks about female assistant referee Sian Massey but insisted he was prevented from making his apology public. He described the remarks as “lads mag banter”.

Keys said in a statement released by Sky Sports: “I am deeply sorry for my remarks and the offence they have caused; it was wrong and should not have happened. I have thought long and hard and reached the decision that it is time to move on.

“Going forward without Andy would have been almost impossible. I am and will remain proud of our work with football at Sky Sports and grateful to the many people who have worked with me. I wish Sky Sports continued success in the future.”

Keys accepted their comments about Massey before she officiated in last Saturday's Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Liverpool were "totally unacceptable".

Both were stood down for the Monday night game between Bolton and Chelsea before Gray was sacked following the emergence of a number of other recordings in which the former Scotland international made sexist comments.

"Prehistoric banter isn't acceptable in the modern world. I accept that. We failed to change when the world has changed," Keys told TalkSPORT radio today. "We wholeheartedly apologise for our behaviour. It was wrong. I deserve to be battered. I can stand up and take a beating. I'm not sorry for me, I'm sorry for Sian Massey.

"I'd like to reiterate what I said to Sian Massey. I rang on behalf of Andy and myself on Sunday afternoon. I'm not proud of what we did, there is no defence, there is no place for it. I was wrong. It was totally unacceptable. I don't live in the dark ages, despite the allegation."

“There are some dark forces at work here,” he added. “I apologised on the Sunday. I realised how deeply wrong we were. Having done that I asked ‘could we make people aware of that fact we had a conversation and that both parties felt it was right to move on?’. I was told ‘no’.

“Then 24 hours had past by which time the world had gone mad. I don’t know why I was told ‘no’ and stopped from telling people what I had done.”

Asked about his derogatory remarks about Jamie Redknapp’s ex-girlfriend he admitted what he said was: “Shocking, horrible, out of order, old-fashioned, behavioural problems that need to be attended to. It’s something I am enormously upset about, not for myself but for others.”

He also didn’t condone Gray’s behaviour to fellow presenter Charlotte Jackson when asked if it was sexual bullying: “Yes I accept that, no argument. Charlotte can handle herself but of course it doesn’t make it right.”

"My mate has been sacked and, of course, I have to consider my options," he had said, adding that he was in discussions with his employees over his future.

Gray issued a statement through his lawyers today. "I am very sorry that certain comments made by me have caused offence,” said Gray.

"Such comments were made off air to work colleagues and, of course, were never intended to be broadcast. I was very upset when the comments were brought to my attention. It was my intention to apologise on Monday night when I was back on air for the Bolton v Chelsea game.

"Sadly I was unable to do so as I was suspended by Sky Sports and have now been sacked.

"Football is my life and I am devastated by losing the job that I love. I am equally upset that third parties have been dragged into this issue and I ask that the media respect their privacy so that they can continue in their roles."

Gray's former Everton team-mate Peter Reid said he suspected the pundit’s sacking may be linked to the legal action he has taken against the News of the World over the phone-hacking scandal. The newspaper is a subsidiary of News Corporation, which owns a large stake in BSkyB and is seeking to purchase the whole company.

Reid told BBC Radio: “He has got lawyers involved with the phone-hacking at News International. I did think of linking the two things.”

Speaking before last Saturday’s game the pair were heard saying: "Somebody better get down there and explain offside to her". Gray retorted: "I know, can you believe that? A female linesman...".

Keys later added: "The game's gone mad" before going on to mock recent comments about sexism in football made by West Ham United vice-chairman Karren Brady, one of the highest-profile women in the game.