Andy Gray and Richard Keys suspended from Bolton v Chelsea match as backlash escalates over Sky duo's sexist rant
Sky Sports have suspended Andy Gray and Richard Keys have been suspended from tonight's Bolton v Chelsea clash as the furore surrounding their sexist comments escalates.
Presenter David Jones and analyst Jamie Redknapp are expected to stand at the Reebok Stadium for the Monday Night Football regulars.
Sky are attempting to take the heat out of the controversy that has raged since their shocking comments about assistant referee Sian Massey before the Wolves v Liverpool match.
Sky Sports managing director Barney Francis confirmed in a statement: 'I have spoken directly to both Richard Keys and Andy Gray this morning.
'It has been made clear to each of them that their comments were totally unacceptable.
'Those views are inexcusable, entirely inconsistent with our ethos as a business and employer, and will rightly offend many of our customers, our people, and the wider public.
'They are inexcusable from anyone at Sky, regardless of their role or seniority.
'We have dealt with this matter by taking immediate disciplinary action. As with any employee it would not be right to go into detail on those proceedings.
'However, they have been clearly warned about their behaviour and reminded of their responsibilities.
'In addition, Richard and Andy will not be involved in any way with tonight’s live Monday Night Football.'
The pair are under increasing scrutiny after their shocking off-air comments aimed at Massey were made public.
Sky's football presenters ridiculed Massey's ability to understand the offside law before Liverpool's 3-0 win at Wolves on Saturday - even though they were the correct decisions.
Speaking to each other in the studio before the game, believing their microphones were off, Keys had said: 'Somebody better get down there and explain offside to her.'
Former Scotland striker Gray replied: 'Can you believe that? A female linesman. Women don't know the offside rule.' To which Keys said: 'Course they don't. I can guarantee you there will be a big one today. Kenny (Liverpool manager Dalglish) will go potty. This isn't the first time, is it? Didn't we have one before?'
Keys also launched an attack on West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady. He said: 'Did you hear charming Karren Brady complaining about sexism? Do me a favour, love.'
Brady has now revealed that the off-air remarks about both herself and Massey made her ‘blood boil’.
Brady told BBC 5live: ‘It makes my blood boil, if I'm absolutely honest. What really upsets me is the fact only females in our industry are judged by their gender. And that is categorically wrong.
'I'm genuinely disappointed. It never would have occurred to me that they had those views, whether public or private.
'It almost makes it worse that they're speaking when the microphones are not on as opposed to when they are on, because (they have) never really had the brass neck to say it publicly, they would only say it privately. I have heard it and I don't believe it is just banter.’
But Keys' sister Susan played down the incident, telling BBC 5Live: 'Football's a tough world, he's a consumate professional.
'It was a bit of banter, perhaps we are all getting a bit precious.
'He has three sisters and a daughter - he has the greatest respect for women.'
Neither of the men apologised on air during Sunday's Blackburn v West Bromwich Albion game.
On Sunday night, a Sky Sports spokesperson said: 'The comments reported today are not acceptable. They were not made on air or broadcast in any way but we have spoken to Richard and Andy and told them our views. They have apologised and expressed their regret.'
A leading pressure group has called for action to be taken against them while England captain Rio Ferdinand also publicly backed Massey. The FA defended the progress of women in the professional game.
The comments were labelled 'appalling' and 'medieval' by Football Against Racism in Europe, a group who work with UEFA to wipe out all discrimination in football.
Executive director Piara Powar, who this week organised a conference in Amsterdam which vowed to increase the number of women in the game, said: 'Their comments reveal the appalling and damaging sexist attitudes that exist across football.
'It is unacceptable that two of British football's biggest names are heard espousing views, whether intended for broadcast or not, that undermine and disparage the efforts of women in the game.
'In an era when women's and girls' football is the biggest growing sport in the UK, their comments are medieval in tone, unacceptable and should lead to immediate action from BSkyB.'
Rio Ferdinand said via Twitter: 'What's wrong with a woman being an official in a football game? I'm cool with it. All that counts is do they get the decisions right.'
The FA said they are proud of female officials like Massey. A spokesperson said: 'The FA has made strides in encouraging both male and female match officials to enter the game at every level, and will continue to offer every encouragement. All of our female match officials act as fantastic ambassadors for the game.'
source has green innit
It's only for today's Chelsea game but it's still somewhat of a statement. Then again, missing Chelsea wouldn't be that big of a blow to me...