Will Tidey - Tekaboo Andy Gray and Richard Keys
Published: 27 Jan 2011 - 07:32:00
'Tekaboo' Richard Keys, it's time to leave the Sky Sports sofa behind and take your 'lads mag' sexist banter to a more appreciative audience. A column in Nuts maybe? A support slot on the next Jim Davidson tour? A return to the 1970s?
Your mate Andy Gray will be with you for the ride, but you get the feeling he'll go longer and faster. After all, Gray's informed and outspoken views on the game are a rare commodity in the sea of mundane, do-it-by-numbers pundits who dominate football's media landscape. He'll be back, Keys might not be so lucky.
Keys said 'dark forces' were at work behind the release of youtube footage that helped to bring him down, but we all know neither he nor Gray have leg to stand on (especially not a silky-smooth female one). When you're the public faces of the company who keep the Premier League in business, you really should know better. If you're a highly-paid public figure, best keep your sexist pig on the down low.
You won't see Sky Sports execs making the same mistake, but is there a smidgen of hypocrisy at work here? Do they choose their female presenters purely on news-delivering ability and sporting knowledge? I would only assume the answer is 'yes', and it's just a remarkable coincidence that the most informed of those female applicants also happen to be gifted in the subjective field of personal appearance. And what of the Soccer AM soccerettes - reinforcement of old-dated sexist stereotypes anyone? Or just a good old-fashioned banter?
That said, glorifying the female form is a lot more acceptable than demeaning women generally - which is what Keys and Gray did to referee's assistant Sian Massey, and Keys did spectacularly when he asked Jamie Redknapp if he'd 'smashed it' with an ex-girlfriend. Karen Brady was also a target and she called Keys a 'dinosaur' yesterday.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the whole affair is just how unpopular Keys and Gray are. In nearly 20 years together at Sky they failed to form a single loyalty strong enough to bring moral support when they needed it. Their underlings and the men who paid their wages clearly won't miss them. Some clearly relished the opportunity to push them out of the door.
Even Rio Ferdinand has been in on the Keys bashing. The Manchester United defender, and self-appointed moral bastion of the beautiful game, tweeted 'Prehistoric banter, there's no place for it.' Keys responded by saying 'Rio, are you telling me it doesn't take place in the Manchester United dressing room. Because my information says it does.'
Ferdinand might like reminding that his teammate and friend Wayne Rooney has a penchant for prostitutes, but let's not forget footballers do their talking on the pitch. We're not expecting a considered opinion consistent with the moral climate when we listen to a footballer - just a few cliched grunts.
One of Ferdinand's United colleagues could even be the man to profit from the sexism scandal. Speculation is suggesting Gary Neville will retire at the end of the season and join Jamie Redknapp in the Sky Sports studio.
As for Keys and Gray, the argument that their behaviour is commonplace in the game is a moot point, and they know it. You can almost hear Grays commentating on his own downfall. 'The lad got found oot. There's no excuse for it. Tekaboo son, it's time to move on.'
- FOOTBALL.CO.UK BLOGGER:Will Tidey
- Will Tidey writes on sport for CNN, Eurosport-Yahoo! and Bleacher Report, amongst others. His first book, 'Life with Sir Alex', an account of Sir Alex Ferguson's 25-year reign at Manchester United, is set for release in October this year. Pre-order it now at http://tinyurl.com/6xzl62b. And follow Will on Twitter here - www.twitter.com/willtidey
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