Atkinson says his racist gaffe will cost him more than £1m

Ron Atkinson's notorious remarks about a black Chelsea footballer have cost him as much as £1m in cancelled contracts and lost sponsorship deals, he admitted last night.

Ron Atkinson's notorious remarks about a black Chelsea footballer have cost him as much as £1m in cancelled contracts and lost sponsorship deals, he admitted last night.

The flamboyant TV pundit was widely condemned last week after characterising Marcel Desailly as a "lazy fucking thick nigger" following a poor performance in the Champions' League.

Although intended as private, his microphone was on and the remarks were broadcast in the Middle East.

They have cost him dear. "Big Ron", a senior match summariser has lost his regular slot with ITV, said to be worth between £150,000 and £200,000 a year, and a column with The Guardian. He has also been dropped by soft drinks brand Britvic which was using him to front a competition in search of football's biggest gaffes.

An apologetic Atkinson, said, "I've offended nobody more than me at the moment. Christ almighty, it's cost me roughly a million quid."

A former top manager whose clubs included Manchester United, he traded heavily on his avuncular image and the mean-spirited remarks are particularly damaging.

Speaking to The Observer, he denied that he was a racist but accepted that he was "an idiot" for making comments. He still claims he cannot remember saying them.

"I've got to the end of the game and I am so angry. There's a commercial break from what I can remember and I'm just talking to myself. And to be fair I've been critical of several of the players. Then I've come out with this infamous line which to this day I don't remember saying. I didn't know anything about it till the next day.

"I've never, to my knowledge, used the word nigger before. But I can understand how much offence I have caused. If someone had said that about one of my players I'd have chinned him."

As the manager of West Bromwich Albion in the late 70s he was an early champion of black players, and plenty of people have been willing to back his record.

Gerard Houllier, Sir Alex Ferguson, Sir Bobby Robson and Terry Venables have all rung to offer their support, he said. He also had a call from John Barnes, the former England international and himself a black player. "Barnsey said, 'Ron, you're not a racist, 'cause if I wanted a job and you were in a position to give it to me, you'd give it to me. People who are racists are the ones who look at you and go, "You're not getting the job". You've always proved who you are with your actions.'"

A former colleague, Carlton Palmer, has also come to his defence. "I'm black and I'm gonna stand up for Big Ron not because he's a friend of mine, I'm standing up for him because I know what he's like as a bloke," he said.

"If we're going to deal with racism then let's deal with the bigger picture of racism not about a throwaway comment that wasn't meant in that manner."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drink
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

Ashdown Group: Analyst Programmer (Filemaker Pro/ SQL) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days, pension, private medical : Ashdown Group: A highly...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - Chessington

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Service Desk Analyst - Chessington, Surrey...

Charter Selection: Graphic Designer, Guildford

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Charter Selection: This renowned and well establish...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas