Inside Lines: Andy Gray in line for permanent comeback as BT give him another break


Expect Andy Gray's second guest appearance as a co-commentator on BT Sport – he has been invited back for today's FA Cup match between Arsenal and Liverpool – to become a more permanent fixture.

Aware that their team will need to be strengthened following their £897 million acquisition of the Champions' League and Europa Cup from next season, I understand BT executives see Gray, still regarded by many in TV as the best analyst in the business, as a key player in their future football coverage.

This despite protests by, among others, the campaign group Women in Football, who have expressed disappointment that the broadcaster has opted to employ the 58-year-old former Scotland international, who was sacked by Sky three years ago over sexist banter between himself and presenter Richard Keys, who later resigned.

Gray, who will stand in for Michael Owen, had returned to TV last month as BT co-commentator for Everton's FA Cup win over Stevenage. However, this was followed by the release of an off-air recording from the early 2000s showing him and Keys singing "Get your tits out for the lads" to Sky Sports colleague Clare Tomlinson. But this has not deterred BT, nor, I predict, will his past behaviour prevent him being offered more substantial work.

Indeed, the latest leak was seen by some at BT as an attempt by someone to sabotage Gray's TV rehabilitation.

Balding's twitter twits

BT's decision to use Andy Gray makes him a controversial bedfellow, so to speak, with their star female presenter Clare Balding, an ardent advocate of equality for women in sport. However, Balding is far too professional to make it an issue.

This professionalism has never been better demonstrated than with her BBC stint in Sochi, where she has helped restore balance and sanity to the mouth-frothing coverage of the slopestyle events. Equally admirable is her decision to ignore the outrageous Twitter trolls who slammed her for not boycotting the Games over Russia's laws against the promotion of same-sex relationships. Her partner, the former radio presenter Alice Arnold, says it is ironic that "the only gay person going" should be attacked in this way.

Ali goes sell for leather

It was 50 years ago this month that Muhammad Ali – then Cassius Clay – sensationally defeated Sonny Liston in Miami to become the heavyweight champ. Now the gloves that "shook up the world" and so abused Liston's lacerated features are up for auction and expected to fetch at least $500,000 (£300,000). The seller is not revealed, but they are from the collection of Ali's late trainer Angelo Dundee and will be sold in New York on 22 February.

"They are the very gloves Ali wore that night," Chris Ivy, director of sports collectibles at the auctioneers, assures us. Which is good news, because we have been to so many charity nights when the gloves Henry Cooper supposedly wore when he first lost to Ali at Wembley were auctioned off that there must be at least a dozen pairs in existence.

Groves hits the jackpot

While hard-sell Amir Khan now looks like losing out on a £5 million payday to fight Floyd Mayweather Jnr, fellow Brit George Groves's perseverance in pursuing a return with Carl Froch has finally paid off with a 50-50 split of a similar figure when they meet again on 31 May. By George, he's got it!

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Hire Manager - Tool Hire

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference