SKY SPORTS HAVE sacked Andy Gray this afternoon.
With the football pundit already at the centre of a sexism row, the station says that ‘new evidence of unacceptable and offensive behaviour’ came to light.
They tweeted, tersely, in the past hour: ‘Andy Gray leaves Sky Sports’.
Sky Sports’ managing director Barney Francis said he had “no hesitation” in summarily terminating Gray’s contract. He added:
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.
Sky said in a statement that the new evidence related to “an off-air incident that took place in December 2010″. It is unknown at this stage what the new evidence may be, but there is some speculation that it may be this fresh footage of the former Everton striker goading presenter Charlotte Jackson.
The scenes, also featuring Richard Keys, show the pundit asking Jackson to tuck a microphone pack down his trousers.
Gray asks Jackson: ‘Charlotte, can you tuck this [microphone pack] down here for me love… Tuck this down here.’
Earlier today, Sky punished the sideline reporter, Andy Burton, seen talking with Gray about female official Sian Massey in the latest leaked footage depicting sexism.
The BBC report that Burton was “spoken to and warned” about his remarks and he will now not be involved in Sky’s coverage of tomorrow’s Carling Cup tie between Birmingham and West Ham.
For the man famed for his two-mobile updates on SSN during transfer deadline day, missing out on work this week, is a bitter pill.
And the heat on Gray and his colleague Keys had intensified this morning. Last night the Monday Night Football double act were absent from the Reebok Stadium as Chelsea hammered Bolton 4-0.
Both were said to be suspended after their sexist remarks about female referee’s assistant Massey were leaked to the press over the weekend.
Today, yet more damaging footage emerged. In that clip shown by Sky News, Gray is seen chatting with SSN reporter Burton about the appearance of the female official.
The new footage – recorded on Saturday before Wolves played Liverpool – shows Gray in conversation with Burton, who describes Massey as a ‘bit of a looker’ in reference to comments made by another member of the production team – ‘Steve the cameraman’.
Keys was said to have telephoned Massey yesterday to make a personal apology which she accepted.
Yesterday’s controversy saw the station scurry to make alternative plans for last night’s live game.
Ultimately they decided to abandon the high-production values of their modern MNF studio and sent a new team to Lancashire.
David Jones presented instead of Keys, with ever-present Jamie Redknapp and Eidur Gudjohnsen alongside him in the gantry.
Sian Massey was penciled in for a return to action tonight. She was scheduled to run the line when Crewe Alexandra play Bradford City at Gresty Road in League Two.
However, referee chiefs have now decided to withdraw the teacher from the game this evening so the ‘focus remains on the players’.
Yesterday, Sky released a statement but it was unclear whether or not the duo will present next Tuesday’s live match between West Brom and Wigan, although the expectation is that they will return.
On Sunday, Keys brazenly began his broadcast with a less-than-subtle reference to the revelations in the morning papers.
Sky Sports said last night that Keys and Gray apologised privately for their comments.
They released a statement which read: ‘The comments are not acceptable. They were not made on air but we have spoken to Richard and Andy and told them our views and they have apologised and expressed their regret.’
“The comments reported are not acceptable. They were not made on air but we have spoken to Richard and Andy and told them our views. They have apologised and expressed their regret.”
Rio Ferdinand weighed in with a comment to his many Twitter followers:
At his Merseyside press conference yesterday, Anfield boss Kenny Dalglsh – father of TV presenter Kelly Cates of course – put Sky’s Vinny O’Connor on the spot, asking him if he was okay with female reporters attending the briefing.
Do you think Keys should now follow Gray out the door?