Richard Keys resigns from Sky

JP Woody

Jan 11, 2009
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Breaking news. Richard Keys has resigned from Sky Sports. More to follow.

Richard Keys resigns from Sky Sports after sexism storm

Richard Keys, the Sky Sports anchor at the centre of a sexism storm, was tonight forced to resign after a mea culpa for "prehistoric banter" evolved into allusions to "dark forces" and criticism of his employers and accusers.

Keys today took to the airwaves on TalkSport to try and quell the "firestorm" that has raged around him and former colleague Andy Gray, sacked on Tuesday by Sky Sports, since leaked tapes revealed sexist comments about a female assistant referee, football executives, colleagues and the former girlfriend of a fellow pundit.

"One last time, sorry. Not for myself. We got it wrong. Bad," he concluded at the end of an hour of live broadcasting in which he had hoped to save his job but appeared to have succeeded in only digging himself deeper into a hole.

Gray, summarily fired when further evidence of sexist behaviour was deliberately leaked from within Sky, also today offered a public apology and said he was "devastated at losing the job I love". But he also sought to explain the circumstances in which the remarks had come to light: "Such comments were made off-air to work colleagues, and were, of course, never intended to be broadcast."

The former Everton striker has instructed his lawyers to handle his dismissal for "unacceptable and offensive behaviour" in the light of leaked footage showing him making lewd comments to a female co-presenter.

The travails of the presenters of the Premier League coverage that has driven Sky's growth for two decades since he "bet the farm" on the football rights was just one more headache for Rupert Murdoch, whose presence did little to quell the conspiracy theories swirling around Sky's headquarters in Osterley and News International in Wapping.

In London to deal with the storm surrounding the phone hacking case engulfing his company and the government's deliberations over whether to refer his mooted takeover of BSkyB to the Competition Commission, the News Corporation chairman is said to have discussed the Sky Sports issue with fellow executives.

The episode began as a series of embarrassing unguarded comments about female assistant referee Sian Massey that were not broadcast but were recorded and leaked.

But it snowballed as further clips were leaked showing both men behaving in a sexist manner, amid stories of bullying and arrogant behaviour that saw it become a lightening rod for a debate about sexism in football and the media in general and at Sky Sports in particular.

Admitting he was "seriously considering" his future, Keys attempted to equate their "misguided fun" at Massey's expense with the "lads' mag humour" that he believed was common to pubs, clubs and dressing rooms up and down the land.

"Prehistoric banter isn't acceptable in the modern world. I accept that. We failed to change when the world has changed," said Keys, who along with Gray became the public face of Sky's reinvention of the national game.

"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," he added.

Keys insisted he had spoken to Massey, who will return to action this weekend when she is due to referee a non-league match at Corby Town, on Sunday afternoon and she had accepted his apology. Indeed, he insisted, there was "much banter" between the pair.

But he hit out at his Sky bosses, who he claimed had prevented him from going public with his apology and stopped he and Gray from fronting Monday Night Football to deal with the situation, and his accusers in the press.

"There are some dark forces at work here. I asked whether we could make people aware of the fact we'd had a conversation. I was told no," he said.
"There is a lot of double standards being applied here by a lot of people," added Keys, who also made a link with the phone hacking case consuming another part of the Murdoch empire.

Gray is also one of several prominent figures taking legal action against the News of the World over the issue.

"There is a row raging about invasion of privacy, phone tapping. What's the difference between that and what's happened to us?" said Keys. "If off air conversations of television and radio presenters were recorded, there would be no one left working. That is not to defend what happened."

But Keys accepted that the most recent clip that appeared, which showed him referring to an ex-girlfriend of pundit Jamie Redknapp as "it" and asking twice whether he had "smashed it", was objectionable.

"Shocking, horrible, out of order, wrong, old fashioned, behavioural problems that need to be attended to? Yeah. Reconstruction? Yeah," he said. "It's a very selective moment from that studio on that night. It shouldn't have happened."

The storm around the pair has given rise to several current and former Sky Sports employees claiming anonymously that there was a culture of bullying and sexism at the broadcaster that Keys and Gray came to personify. But Keys insisted that was not the case.

"There is not inherent sexism at Sky, nor in the sports department or the football department. There is a sports room, a little boisterous like a dressing room up and down the country. It reflects what goes on in pubs and clubs," he said. "If you're in a pub and a masculine type is bothering someone at the bar, we don't like that. There is an attitude that exists such as that. If this starts to change that, it would give me some pleasure."
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not surprising after Gray was sacked. This whole thing has been blown way out of proportion
Well he said on Talksport he was seriously considering doing it, so no surprise
YEEEEEEES!! dont care about the sexism at all, but theyre both boring, united bumming nobs glad to see 'em go
dunno whos gunna replace them though, hopefully redknapp gets a promotion he actually knows what hes talking about as well
He said earlier on TalkSport that he was considering his future as it wouldn't be the same if Andy Gray wasn't there.

Probably the right thing for him to do for the company, as now it's completely gone and they really move into a new era although I don't think any of this should have happened anyway.
The way both have been stitched up and thrown into the spotlight by sky for banter which wasn't aimed at being broadcast is absolutely disgusting.

I for one won't be carrying on my sky subscription.
My heart, it gently weeps. Don't care, frankly, he was a mediocre pundit.
Not surprising.

Cant say I care any more.
:D Yes ! Much Rather Jeff Stelling. Didnt like his presenting anyway
So i suppose the whole of Loose Women will get sacked now as well too for being sexist?
Don't blame him tbh. Gonna be weird not seeing him and Gray on super sunday anymore.
This is a joke.
Unless Jeff takes over, then it's absolutely justified.
So i suppose the whole of Loose Women will get sacked now as well too for being sexist?

To be honest, if your a guy, and you watch Loose Women enough to bother remembering what they have said, you deserve to be verbally battered.
dissapointed when gray left - he was good

keys isnt a good presenter/pundit to me the guy who did mnf monday is better
Oh no, hairyhands has gone!

No big loss, they'll probably get one of the SSN guys to replace him, Brian Swanson ftw.
Keys and Gray gone over a bit of banter after 20 years together, completely stupid, bet Sky end up employing some twats to replace them
The way both have been stitched up and thrown into the spotlight by sky for banter which wasn't aimed at being broadcast is absolutely disgusting.

I for one won't be carrying on my sky subscription.

Really? You are a bit of a pathetic person then. Cancelling your subscription because two media personalities were put under the spotlight for being sexist?
Ben Sheppard might be the one to replace him, according to paper reports earlier. Also mentioned that Jamie Redknapp is to replace Gray.