Sam Wallace: Keys' desperation to have his say was the decisive nail in his coffin

 

As an experienced journalist at the centre of what he described himself as a media "firestorm", Richard Keys should have known that the more he said yesterday, the deeper the hole would become but, consumed by the desire to speak his mind, he forgot that most basic of rules.

Famous as he is for never using a script when he has presented Sky Sports' coverage of the biggest matches over the last 20 years, this was the one occasion when Keys would have done himself a favour by sticking to a few lines proscribed by his lawyer. By the end of more than an hour in the talkSport radio studio, he had not so much given legs to the story of his sexism scandal, as jabbed it in the side and shooed it out of the field.

He came to apologise for his original comments, secretly recorded before Sunday's game between Wolves and Liverpool, about the female referee's assistant Sian Massey. And he did so repeatedly and without reservation. It was the bits between the apologies that caused all the trouble.

In seeking to explain his position he hinted at a secret conspiracy – "the dark forces" – that had prevented him from apologising earlier in the week. He claimed that sexism was rife in the Manchester United dressing room. He apologised to Karren Brady, West Ham's vice-chairman, then claimed she had used his disparaging remark about her to camouflage the club's current problems.

In the lingua franca of an industry obsessed with public image, Keys had "gone rogue". He even compared his own trial by leaked footage to the phone-hacking scandal that is consuming Sky Sports' parent company News Corp. One can only imagine how Rupert Murdoch's executives felt about that.

"We do live in a democracy, there are two sides to this," Keys pleaded. "Please, we've heard one a lot, let's hear the other one a little bit."

It was, in the modern parlance, car-crash radio. This was Keys' Alan Partridge moment. Or rather it was comparable to the moment when Alan goes on air to apologise to Norfolk's farmers only to abandon the apology midway with disastrous consequences.

At one point in the interview, Keys was interrupted by one of the presenters who read out a statement released via Andy Gray's lawyers expressing, briefly and succinctly, his own regret. "Well, it's kind of saying what I have," responded Keys. But Keys said so much more.

The contradictions were hard to ignore. On the subject of his beloved "banter", as he described it, Keys said: "There is a wider conversation here about is it sexist? Is it lads' mag banter? Is there a place for it? That is not for me to judge and this is not the time for that conversation." The answers he was surely looking for were: yes, yes and no.

Even then he must have known then he was on his way out. There was a screw-you-moment to those at Sky who stitched him up – "Whatever happens next they will never take those 20 years off us" – and a reminder to others that they had drunk at the "well" of success dug by him and Gray.

Keys has always been the most cautious of presenters, never becoming embroiled in any public rows beyond the odd unguarded comment recorded on a microphone. His personality has never been a feature of his presenting. Not until now when, finally let off the leash, he has let rip on 20 years' worth of conspiracy theories and animosities.

Keys has had a ringside seat over the years, watching various figures in English football hang themselves with their words, none more famous than Kevin Keegan's rant in 1996 about Sir Alex Ferguson broadcast live on Sky Sports. But it did not stop him repeating the same mistakes.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
ESPN footage showed a split-screen Murray’s partner Kim Sears and Berdych’s partner Ester Satorova 'sporting' their jewellery
tennis
Arts and Entertainment
Cold case: Aaron McCusker and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvReview: Sky Atlantic's ambitious new series Fortitude has begun with a feature-length special
Voices
Three people wearing masks depicting Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg
voicesPolitics is in the gutter – but there is an alternative, says Nigel Farage
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
News
i100
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballThe more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Life and Style
Vote green: Benoit Berenger at The Duke of Cambridge in London's Islington
food + drinkBanishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turn over a new leaf
News
Joel Grey (left) poses next to a poster featuring his character in the film
peopleActor Joel Grey comes out at 82
News
i100
News
business
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee