Early Doors

The pundit who wouldn’t die: Andy Gray back on TV despite latest sexism furore

Early Doors

Like a movie zombie who just refuses to die, disgraced football pundit and 'casual sexist' Andy Gray will be back on British TV screens this weekend - with BT Sport employing him to cover one of the biggest matches of the weekend.

Last month Gray returned to British TV screens as an expert analyst and commentator with BT Sport, but his prospects of future work appeared to have been dashed in a big way with the release of a new behind-the-scenes video from his days at Sky Sports - a video which contains sexism so extreme that it'd make even Benny Hill think twice.

The footage was posted on the Football Ramble website, and showed Gray and sidekick presenter Richard Keys singing "Get your t*ts out for the lads!" to touchline reporter Clare Tomlinson and telling her to "Get off the pitch!".

Tomlinson's long-suffering sighs in the clip said it all: she was very evidently an ambitious professional biting her tongue while trying to keep smiling in order to further her career. In other words, exactly the sort of ordeal that woman in any other profession haven't faced since the 1970s.

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The footage was of a similar vein to that which led to Gray being sacked and Keys resigning from Sky in the first place, exactly three years prior to Arsenal v Liverpool.

Yet despite the new footage - and despite the fact that BT Sport were widely condemned for bringing Gray back to British TV screens for Stevenage's FA Cup tie against Everton in January - BT have brought Gray back once again, to act as a co-commentator for this weekend's huge FA Cup match between Arsenal and Liverpool.

The quality of his football analysis is not in question - and many fans have already taken to Twitter to welcome the fact that BT's usual drab co-commentator, Michael Owen, is away on holiday this weekend.

But the huge reaction against Keys when he filled in last month highlights the fact that bringing the Scot in once again is a huge risk for the broadcaster, which has been working hard - and spending hundreds of millions of pounds - to break Sky's almost total monopoly on football coverage.

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Gray has been working alongside his former Sky colleague Richard Keys at BeInSport in Qatar after he was fired by Sky in 2011.

After a spell at TalkSport, the pair were employed by Al-Jazeera owned BeInSport in Doha to front their live Premier League coverage.

Gray has said of previous leaked footage: "This was a private bit of banter released to social media and for some reason the press etc tore us apart."

The pair have always maintained that there was an agenda to force them out of Sky and British broadcasting in general, with Keys saying that they were "bugged" and that "dark forces were at work".

Taking those comments in tandem with the timing of the various videos' appearances online, it does actually seem that there are deliberate attempts to sabotage the rehabilitation of Gray within the profession.

Whether BT are brave to stand up to the anonymous bullies, or insane to risk their burgeoning reputation as a broadcaster, depends upon your point of view.

After all, Gray’s unprofessional antics to this day strike a nerve with a large portion of the viewership, and the channel – which launched in August last year – also features on-screen talent such as Clare Balding, who is a passionate advocate of equality in sport.

[Gray's BT future rocked by new leaked footage]

[Gray returns to British TV three years after sexism storm]

[Keys and Gray 'only get £200,000 in new jobs]

[Sky Sports sack 'offensive' Andy Gray]

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