The football broadcaster Richard Keys has threatened legal action after Gabby Logan labelled him and co-presenter Andy Gray “dinosaurs waiting to become extinct” and detailed fresh allegations of sexist and offensive remarks during their time at Sky Sports.
Logan joined Sky Sports as a 23-year-old graduate and went on to become one of the most recognisable female faces in a male-dominated environment, with the broadcaster’s football coverage at the time fronted by Keys and Gray.
The pair left Sky in 2011 after tapes were leaked of the duo making derogatory and sexist remarks about female assistant referee Sian Massey, as well as making inappropriate comments and sexual innuendos to colleagues. Gray was sacked following the release of the video showing him making inappropriate comments to the presenter Charlotte Jackson. Keys then resigned.
Logan, who says that it was Keys who recruited her to Sky as part of the TV channel’s push to sign up more female employees, recalled what it was like working at Sky during their broadcasting heyday in the UK, and made allegations about a misgynistic joke about sex with pregnant women, on a flight to the 2005 Champions League final. Keys is adamant that he has no recollection of travelling to the event on the same flight as Logan.
Writing for the Daily Mail, Logan said: “I don’t really want to write a lot about Richard Keys; he was dismissed, along with Gray, when they were caught talking lewdly about the lineswoman Sian Massey, and after he was caught asking pundits in the studio if they would ‘smash it’, referring to another woman.
“In one painful-to-listen-to monologue aimed at saving his UK career, [Keys] tried to argue that he couldn’t be sexist, because he’d helped get me a job and kick-started my career. He truly didn’t get it. Keys and Gray were dinosaurs, waiting to become extinct.”
Responding to the article, Keys tweeted: “With reference to an article published by The Mail on Sunday written by Ms Gabby Logan. Ms Logan has made a number of wildly inaccurate allegations in the process of defaming my reputation. I have referred the matter to lawyers with a view to proceeding with libel action.”
Keys and Gray are now football presenters for beIN Sports, a global network of sports channels owned and operated by the Qatari media group beIN.
Logan has since worked her way to the top of BBC Sport, having presented their coverage of the Olympic Games, Six Nations rugby and live football show Final Score for several years.
But it was with Sky, as one of the first female faces to present sports coverage, where she cut her teeth in her 20s, and where she was already well known to many due to being the daughter of former Wales international Terry Yorath. She also said that one “well-known male presenter” taunted her by asking how many footballers she had slept with not long after she had begun her career. It is understood that the unnamed male presenter was not either Keys or Gray.
“Sky Sports was a tough school, but I find it hard to say I was subjected to discrimination,” Logan said. “I was there because they wanted more women on screen, for a start, so there was an air of positivity to that.
“I was occasionally the butt of comments and scenarios that my male peers might not have had to endure. As I wandered through the office one afternoon, one well-known male presenter shouted: ‘Oi, Yorath! How many Premier League footballers have you notched up on your bedpost?’
“At 23 years old, I lacked the verbal elasticity to knock him out with a witty retort. His gang of cronies giggled. I smiled and carried on walking. Inside, I was dying. An older rugby league presenter stopped me in the corridor one day and said: ‘Your a--- is amazing right now, but sadly for you, it’s one of those a---- that will be by your knees when you hit 30.’ ‘Well you might find out – if you’re even still around when I’m 30.’ That was the best I could do.”
There has since been a huge overhaul in staff at Sky Sports, who have made it clear that they would have a zero-tolerance approach to such behaviour.