MARTIN SMITH: Andy Gray’s £1.7m sexist outburst crossed the line - no replay required

Axed: Analyst Andy Gray.
Axed: Analyst Andy Gray.
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IT’S the most shocking statement ever to come from a TV football studio.

Andy Gray’s overgrown playground sexism and the achingly unfunny: ‘Can you help us with this love...’?

No.

His put-down of female assistant referee Sian Massey?

No. Though that was considerably more offensive than the trousers sketch.

The £1.7million was the shocker, the £1.7 million he used to get paid to talk about football.

Does he know he’s born?

Does he know he’s blown one of the best jobs in the world for the sake of being cocky and a ‘bit of a lad’?

As he sits at home behind those giant wrought iron gates festering over his lawsuit against the Rupert Murdoch-owned News Of The World and his treatment from Rupert Murdoch-owned Sky TV, he ought to be thinking exactly that.

But will he?

Having had the last word on all controversial football issues in the last 20 years he probably thought he could say no wrong and was simply reflecting the views of men of his age and persuasion.

He is acknowledged by TV and football insiders as a brilliant analyst and the man who gives the general public an insight into what the professionals think and feel about a game.

That’s why he had to go.

For a man so influential to be spouting such nonsense could never simply be ignored.

He lived by the word and in the end died by it.

The fact is that he was passing the time of day being spiteful about a female linesman because that’s what’s expected of him with his dressing-room humour and take-no-prisoners analytical style.

And he thought no one was listening.

He thought he was chatting to a like-minded individual in Richard Keys - who surely hasn’t heard the last of all this but up to the time of writing was still employed.

The fact that they thought they were only talking to each other doesn’t excuse what they said but we can’t sack everyone who doesn’t toe the line on sexual politics.

Carry-On coarse though those remarks may have been most of us will have heard worse than the comments he made to Charlotte Jackson.

It’s called banter.

But it’s also called bullying and can be intimidating and offensive to the recipient.

The fact that many women laugh off such remarks - and a lot worse - and give as good as they get is indisputable.

But the remarks become an issue when the personal becomes public and when dry humour becomes vitriol.

When a figure like Andy Gray delivers them with such anger and bitterness in his voice it’s a real problem.