World Football

Andy Gray Returns to British TV with BT Sport for Everton's FA Cup Match

DOHA, QATAR - JANUARY 21:  Andy Gray, former international footballer and broadcaster, in action during the Pro Am prior to the start of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters at Doha Golf Club on January 21, 2014 in Doha, Qatar.  (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Andrew Redington/Getty Images
Aidan ReynoldsContributor IIIJanuary 25, 2014

Three years to the day since he was embroiled in a sexism outrage that cost him his job, Andy Gray will return to British television to commentate on a live football match. 

When Stevenage play Everton in the fourth round of the FA Cup, it will be Gray providing the analysis for BT Sport. Yahoo! Eurosport reported part of BT Sport's statement, which was part of a Twitter post that insisted Gray's appointment was based on "a strong cup pedigree with Everton."

Whether this will prove to be a lasting decsion is another matter, however. Immediately after praising Gray's cup pedigree, the BT statement is quick to qualify its stance by saying that Gray is acting in relief of Michael Owen while Owen is away on holiday.

Needless to say, opinions have been mixed. 

While players like Tottenham's Andros Townsend are happy to see the pundit returning to the studio, some viewers and journalists are incensed at what they see as a regressive retreat to an unwelcome past:

While the decision appears to be a temporary one, this isn't going to be something that disappears. Football has often come under attack for his anachronistic attitudes, particularly towards racism and sexism.

BT's decision to hire Gray was always going to cause controversy, and the company must have anticipated a reaction similar to the one received.

While it may not have been the main motivation behind their choice, there's no denying that the game will attract more viewers than would usually watch Stevenage vs. Everton.

Given the sizable gulf in league position, Everton will be expected to cast Stevenage aside with very little effort. Stevenage, however, know that the home tie gives them the best chance of winning the game. 

They have history, too. in 2011 Newcastle were the victims of an unlikely upset in the third round, so Roberto Martinez will be giving Stevenage the respect they deserve.

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