Ron Atkinson quits ITV after his racist remarks are heard on air

Football pundit Ron Atkinson has resigned from ITV Sport for making racist remarks after Chelsea's Champions League match with Monaco on Tuesday.

Football pundit Ron Atkinson has resigned from ITV Sport for making racist remarks after Chelsea's Champions League match with Monaco on Tuesday.

Atkinson is understood to have referred to Chelsea's Marcel Desailly as a "fucking lazy nigger" in an off-air conversation with commentator Clive Tyldesley after the end of the game, which Chelsea lost 3-1. The conversation was thought to have been heard on Middle East channels which continued to broadcast the live feed after the final whistle.

Atkinson, 65, a former manager of Aston Villa, Manchester United and Athletico Madrid, apologised for the remarks last night. He said: "I made a stupid mistake which I regret, it left me no option to resign.

"At the moment ,I can't believe I did it. It was just a moment of stupidity. I was very frustrated at the end of the game because I thought Chelsea could have won. I regret making the comments and I apologise to anyone I may have offended."

An ITV spokesman said: "We do not in any way condone the comments in question which were not broadcast as part of ITV's coverage but were made in an off-air conversation after the game.

"It was a regrettable lapse by a respected and experienced broadcaster who has been part of the ITV sports team for many years. We have discussed the situation with Ron Atkinson, who is devastated and very sorry for any offence caused by his comments. He immediately offered his resignation which we have accepted."

Atkinson's career in football began when he joined Aston Villa in 1956. After failing to make the grade at the club he supported as a boy, he was transferred to Oxford United, where - as a muscular centre half - he became known as the "Tank", playing more than 400 times for the club.

As a manager, successful spells with lower league sides Kettering and Cambridge led to him being offered the job at West Bromwich Albion in 1978.

At a time when many clubs had an entirely white playing staff, he became a champion of black players, signing Laurie Cunningham, Brendan Batson and Cyrille Regis. Atkinson said last night: "If you look at my track record as a manager, I was one of the first managers in the game to give black players a chance."

In 1981, he moved to Manchester United, where he enjoyed the best spell of his managerial career, winning the FA Cup in 1983 and 1985. When he was replaced by Alex Ferguson in 1987, he returned to West Brom and after a brief spell at Athletico Madrid, won the League Cup with Sheffield Wednesday in 1991 and Aston Villa in 1994.

Since retiring from his last management job at Nottingham Forest in 1999, he has worked as a summariser on ITV's Champion's League coverage and On The Ball programme for several years, and is also a columnist for The Guardian newspaper.

In a statement last night, the newspaper said: "We take this matter extremely seriously and will be talking to Ron Atkinson at the earliest opportunity."

Atkinson's fondness for gold jewellery and year-round tan have earned him the nickname "Champagne Ron" or "Mr Bojangles" and, as a commentator, he has always mixed astute tactical analysis with a sometimes impenetrable but entertaining argot which has become known as "Ronglish". Phrases such as "early doors" and "giving it eyebrows" and have spawned websites in honour of the jargon.

A spokeswoman for the Commission for Racial Equality said: "Obviously it's disappointing that someone in a position such as his should make those comments,but he has resigned - he has done the right thing."

Sport
Romelu Lukaku
sportChelsea striker sends second teasing tweet of the day
News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
people
News
i100
Life and Style
Phones will be able to monitor your health, from blood pressure to heart rate, and even book a doctor’s appointment for you
techCould our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?
News
people
Extras
indybest
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
Life and Style
tech'World's first man-made leaves' could use photosynthesis to help astronauts breathe
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Data Scientist

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A data analytics are currently looking t...

Insight Analyst Vacancy - Leading Marketing Agency

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading marketing agency have won a fe...

Account Manager, London

£18000 - £22000 per annum, Benefits: Excellent Uncapped Commission Structure: ...

Sales Executive, London

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Charter Selection: This exciting entertainment comp...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns