They had it all until the Sky fell in

Andy Gray and Richard Keys
Andy Gray and Richard Keys

COMMENT: Carrier sends out a strong message to the world

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Ihave been stunned by the dramatic downfall of my old colleagues Richard Keys and Andy Gray at Sky Sports.

They have been cast as pariahs in a vicious round of newspaper articles.

I am not privy to all the sub-plots here but can only tell you how I saw it as part of that team until very recently.

First thing to establish is that both were top TV professionals who did their job superbly.

Andy’s analysis of the game has broadened the public’s knowledge and understanding of top-level football these past 20 years.

Commentating with him, I was always in awe of his ability to call big moments with great clarity and unerring accuracy before he got to see any replay.

Richard was renowned among Sky directors for his smooth presentation, even if all was chaos backstage.

When Sky Sports was controversially given the Premier League contract back in 1992, myself and Martin Tyler were commentators alongside Andy, with Richard presenting.

The critics were waiting with daggers drawn to rip our coverage to shreds.

But Richard and Andy, helped I hope by we commentators and some very innovative production people, ensured that we quickly gained enormous respect and credibility.

They played a big part in putting the satellite channel on the map as a major part of the broadcasting landscape.

They became the faces of Sky football with a big power base.

But all that changed very quickly last week. Both men know they were way out of order with their sexist remarks about assistant referee Sian Massey, left, at Wolves.

And they will be horrified by further leaks of embarrassing off-air antics in recent days.

Why those antics were being recorded and why they were released to the newspapers, one can only speculate.

Many anonymous Sky insiders have been quoted with unflattering stories about the erstwhile stars.

While they could often be good fun, fair to say that their boisterous banter was not everyone’s cup of tea, and there were times when it became too cruel and cutting for some tastes.

It was a hard school sort of environment. Sexist?

I can honestly say I neither saw, nor heard, any evidence of that until last week.

But my old bosses have clearly decided to take this opportunity to make a big change to their football line-up, making Richard and Andy expendable.

My old colleagues will be devastated at the speed at which the Sky fell in.