Martin Tyler and BBC forced to apologise over Hillsborough ‘hooligan’ comment

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BBC and Martin Tyler forced to apologise over Hillsborough 'hooligan' comment - GETTY IMAGES
BBC and Martin Tyler forced to apologise over Hillsborough 'hooligan' comment - GETTY IMAGES

The BBC and Martin Tyler have been forced to apologise after the veteran commentator appeared to link the Hillsborough disaster with hooliganism on the Today programme.

In an interview to mark the Premier League’s 30th anniversary, Tyler referred to "Hillsborough and other hooligan-related issues" - a comment which provoked fury after it went unchallenged by presenter Martha Kearney.

Tyler, widely regarded as the voice of the world’s richest league, was reminiscing about how much the game had changed since 1992, when he said: "You’ve got to remember that football was in a bit of a crisis at that time. We weren’t that long after Hillsborough and other hooligan-related issues as well."

Among those to condemn the comment were Steve Rotheram, the mayor of the Liverpool City Region, who was present during the 1989 Hillsborough disaster and has been among the leading campaigners for justice for its victims and their families.

The BBC was quick to issue an apology. "We regret that we did not robustly challenge Martin Tyler on a comment which appeared to link Hillsborough and hooliganism," a statement read. "Martin has since apologised for the comment and clarified that these were separate examples and he did not intend to conflate the two."

'I apologise sincerely and wholeheartedly for any misunderstanding'

Telegraph Sport has been told Tyler is mortified at mangling his words and he subsequently issued a separate apology through Sky.

"This morning, while discussing various crises facing football 30 years ago, I referred to some examples including the Hillsborough disaster and also controversy over hooliganism at matches," he said.

"These are two separate issues. There is no connection at all between the Hillsborough disaster and hooliganism – I know that, and I was not implying that there was. I apologise sincerely and wholeheartedly for any misunderstanding."

Tyler is due on air on Friday night for the first match of the new Premier League season between Crystal Palace and Arsenal.

The Hillsborough disaster, which led to the death of 97 Liverpool supporters, was at the centre of a decades-long cover-up in which drunken fans were wrongly blamed for causing it.

A series of inquiries later found a failure of police control was primarily responsible for the tragedy.