The Hairdryer

BT Sport’s lack of vision sees Halsey chopped while wretched presenters Humphrey and Sykes survive

The Hairdryer

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The feeling that BT Sport don't really know what they are doing with their product, whatever their product is, was promoted by the fact that last week they wheeled in the temperamental Melanie Skyes to front up their coverage of MotoGP.

Sykes is probably best known for looking glamorous by fronting a Boddingtons advert around 18 years ago before a stint on an ITV chat show called Des and Mel for four years alongside Des O'Connor.

Who knows what Sykes - who picked up her second husband on Twitter, a seemingly doomed marriage that saw her cuffed, arrested and cautioned for common assault back in November - contributes by analysing the world of men encased in leather jumpsuits on motorbikes?

On BT Sport's website, Sykes signals a preference for vodka tonic, reveals she is a 'Come Dine With Me' fan and cheekily informs us that she loves a bit of salami. No shock there then.

The latest tidbit of slightly sad news to emerge from the weird and bonkers world of BT Sport comes to us this morning via the Daily Mail with the revelation that they are apparently about to dispense with the services of Mark Halsey, an outspoken former referee who has recently been doing a turn as a pundit on the station.

Halsey has had a falling out with his former employers at what is the official referees' union - full title the Professional Game Match Officials (trying saying that after knocking off a Boddingtons with Sykes) - after berating referee chief Mike Riley and calling for him to resign due to falling standards among officials.

The ongoing Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore is apparently so keen to see Halsey's head in his trophy room that the elusive match official forwarded an email to his lawyers, London’s Pump Court Chambers, claiming they were out to get to him.

"Richard Scudamore (PL chief executive) rang Marc Watson, the head man of BT, demanding they sack me. I received a phone call from Grant Best (BT football chief) telling me I had been stood down due to the article," he allegedly wrote.

BT Sport officially describe 'Mark' as a figure who "brings a new viewpoint to BT Sport’s football coverage as we gain an insight from the one person on a football field who is neutral". But no longer it seems. Not while they are out to get him.

Halsey made the offending comments in a newspaper article, but has seemingly been a marked man since stating his views. Not that The Hairdryer particularly enjoyed seeing the match disrupted, but in a move supposed to be innovative, Halsey commented on refereeing decisions during live games, and was usually fairly inoffensive with his comments about whistlers. But his not-so-vanilla views in print have left him lost in the world of the BT Sport afterlife.

The poor bloke has not been seen since last December while the satellite station have failed to keep him involved in football programmes.

According to the Mail, Halsey remains on the take at BT but is apparently going to be paid off in June if he walks quietly with the channel not wanting to upset the Premier League ahead of the next tender for the lucrative TV rights to live English football.

The decision to chop Halsey at the end of the season is entirely predictable given that BT Sport employ a number of BBC cast-offs where the emphasis is placed on not offending anyone, plenty of chumminess and trying to appear professional.

Nice work if you can get it. The smug, self-congratulatory and slimy air of their presentation is best summed up by Jake Humphrey, a figure who has become the face of the channel despite being as irritating on the senses as pouring a full tub of salt over your dinner.

No wonder David Ginola looked like he was shaking a sauce bottle live on air behind Humphrey. That is the best viewing so far on the channel. This guy has The Hairdryer reaching for the mute button every time he appears. Turn it right down until the football starts.

Whatever is wrong with a reliable solid presenter like Ray Stubbs fronting the footy coverage? A man who cut on his teeth on award-winning drama like the haggard world of BDO World Darts and mixing it with real blokes such as Martin 'Wolfie' Adams.

The policy at BT is ... there is none, or at least that's how it seems. Just make it up as you go along. It was Humphrey who apparently came up with the ridiculous decision to host coverage on scaffolding immediately after the match among fans leaving the ground.

Which is all right as long as you don't want to hear Arsenal fans singing "we've got a big f*****g German" towards the former London club's goalie Jens Lehmann, among other obscenities around the time Highway used to be broadcast on the Sabbath.

So Halsey is axed for stating an honest opinion while Sykes is celebrated. Imagine if a wife-beater was trotted out? No, you are right. It wouldn't happen.

Just can't wait for the next helping of the magical Claire Balding Show whenever she makes her way back from Sochi.

Leroy Haroe Snowers

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