Andy Gray: Sky Sports Sack Leading Soccer Personality

Chris O ConnallCorrespondent IIIJanuary 25, 2011

Former Sky Sports Leading Soccer Pundit, Andy Gray.
Former Sky Sports Leading Soccer Pundit, Andy Gray.

Sky Sports have terminated the contract of leading soccer pundit/analyst Andy Gray with immediate effect.

Gray's contract was terminated today after evidence emerged confirming that he made sexist remarks about a female referee's assistant.

Gray and fellow presenter Richard Keys were suspended by Sky yesterday and subsequently missed the trademark 'Monday Night Football' telecast which had exclusive coverage of Bolton vs. Chelsea.

Rumours surfaced in December 2010 that Gray had made sexist and offensive remarks about one of the few female assistant referee's in World Soccer, Sian Massey.

Gray was forced to apologise earlier this month for the alleged incident but his contract was terminated earlier today after fresh evidence emerged confirming Grays comments, which were made when he believed he was off air, although the audio feed was still being broadcast live.

Barney Francis, managing director of Sky Sports, said, "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 have also punished Gray's fellow pundit, Andy Burton, for his part in the incident. It is unknown if further disciplinary action will be taken against Burton.

As of writing, Richard Keys is still under contract with Sky and is unlikely to be terminated, although rumours are suggesting he will resign due to mounting media pressure and in the wake of Gray's termination.

It is unknown who will replace Andy Gray in his ''Ford Super Sunday—The Last Word'' slot, which has become a trademark of the Scot, or in his role on Monday Night Football.

If Keys were to leave, one would assume that Monday Night Football would be retired or dramatically revamped as the duo have been at the heart of the show for many years. It should be noted that 'MNF' was cancelled due to the duo's suspension last night and was replaced by Sky's normal coverage of Premier League matches.

On a side note, the female assistant Sian Massey, has been relieved of her duties for tonight's lower division match. 

Mike Riley, a leading figure in British refereeing stated that the removal was in no way a reflection of Massey's performance and was simply a move in the interest of the game. Riley said that no one match official should overshadow the importance of the match.

On a personal note, I would like to send my best wishes to Andy Gray for the future. He has been a valuable asset for Sky throughout the years and provided some memorable moments for television viewers.

I would also like to congratulate Sian Massey for her recent excellent performance in officiating the Wolves vs. Liverpool match.

Written on 27th January:

To update my earlier post, Richard Keys has now resigned from his role as anchorman of Sky Sports. With both him and Gray gone, it marks a huge turning point in the future of Sky as these two have been working together for twenty years.

Keys said in a public statement that ''Continuing on without Andy would have almost been impossible.''

The frontrunners to replace Gray and Keys are Jamie Redknapp and Jeff Stelling respectively. Other names floating around include Chris Kamara, Paul Merson, Gordon Strachan and Ed Chamberlain.

It is sad to see both men gone from Sky. Their comments, while unacceptable, have been blown out of all proportions and were a harmless enough offence which is now being laughed off by Massey, who has received private apologies from both men.

Sky have not ruled out resigning the duo in the future, a move that would be welcomed by a vast majority of people.