Stan Collymore will not feature as a pundit for BT Sport’s coverage of Friday night’s Rangers Scottish Championship match against Raith Rovers after becoming embroiled in a Twitter spat about sectarian chanting at matches.
Collymore took to social media to back a campaign against Rangers’ fans who continue to sing offensive songs, and he also demanded that live coverage of Rangers games be taken off air if the songs continue to be heard at Ibrox.
However, a BT Sport spokesman contradicted Collymore by claiming they has not dropped or sacked him, and said it was Collymore’s decision not to appear on tonight’s show.
The former footballer, who appeared for Nottingham Forest, Liverpool and Aston Villa among many overs, soon became involved in a back and forth argument with fans of the Scottish club, he frequently brought up his violent past and domestic violence.
It had been triggered after Collymore backed a petition which said: "Boycott sponsors Sectarian chanting is illegal. Demeaning."
The former Liverpool and England striker, who worked for BT Sport on a freelance basis, tweeted: "Just had a call from btsportfootball. I'm taken off the show. Absolutely fine. Better to be right than bury my head. Enjoy!
"I can hold my head high and say i did the right thing to challenge hypocrisy amongst Rangers fans. BT show #RFC games, so inevitable."
Just had a call from @btsportfootball . I’m taken off tomorrow’s show. Absolutely fine. Better to be right than bury my head. Enjoy!; Stan Collymore (@StanCollymore) February 19, 2015
I can hold my head high and say i did the right thing to challenge hypocrisy amongst Rangers fans. BT show #RFC games, so inevitable.; Stan Collymore (@StanCollymore) February 19, 2015
He claimed he was dropped from the BT Sport line-up for the Raith Rovers v Rangers Championship clash because he called for Rangers to be taken off air until their fans stopped singing about "Fenian blood".
A BT Sport spokesman countered the claim, saying: "Stan has intimated he no longer wishes to appear on BT Sport."
The broadcaster said that while they do not agree with any form of racism they "did not agree with the nature of the debate on twitter", and said they had been "brought into (the debate) without prior agreement".
The spokesman added: "BT Sport will raise and discuss the issue within its programming when relevant and in an appropriate manner."
Collymore had urged his online followers to show their support for the petition and said if they signed it he would "take it to every sponsor and tv/radio station i know."
Collymore hit back at his critics and said: "All btsportfootball have done is empower right wing mob rule. Nothing else. 8 friends and i have cancelled already. Hypocrisy."
He also wrote: "You can get sectarian, racist, threats from Rangers fans but can't tell truths. Censorship & fascism alive and well in 2015 Britain."
All @btsportfootball have done tonight is empower right wing mob rule. Nothing else. 8 friends and i have cancelled already. Hypocrisy.; Stan Collymore (@StanCollymore) February 19, 2015
You can get sectarian, racist, threats from Rangers fans but can’t tell truths. Censorship & fascism alive and well in 2015 Britain.; Stan Collymore (@StanCollymore) February 19, 2015
The Rangers Supporters Trust dismissed Collymore's claims and branded him a "self-publicist".
In a statement on their website they claimed that "if Mr Collymore was interested in sectarianism then he would deal with the subject evenly".
They stated: "Rangers have done significantly more than most other clubs, including Mr Collymore's Celtic, to deal with issues around fans' behaviour over the years and we are sure that will continue."
They claimed that Collymore would only "exacerbate any genuine issues with ill advised, inaccurate and inane interventions".
They added: "If this is the type of man that BT Sport wish to associate themselves with then not only Rangers fans, but fans of all clubs, have the option of voting with their subscriptions."
Collymore retweeted a number of supportive messages he was sent on the site, including this from JordanHassan23: "Even as a Rangers fan, I'm impressed with StanCollymore 's dedication to this. Really needs addressed and sorted now."
The user then added: "Probably going to get abuse from fellow Rangers fans about that last tweet but it had to be said and something does need to be done about it."
Additional reporting by PA
Follow the latest football news from The Independent on Twitter @IndyFootballReuse content