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!

a.hubbard@independent.co.uk

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Sport
Rio Ferdinand returns for QPR
sportRio Ferdinand returns from his three-game suspension today
News
people

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
Sport
Billy Twelvetrees will start for England against Australia tomorrow with Owen Farrell dropping to the bench
rugbyEngland need a victory against Australia today
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
books
Sport
Tyson Fury poses outside the Imperial War Museum in south London ahead of his fight against Dereck Chisora
All British heavyweight clash gets underway on Saturday night
News
i100 Charity collates series of videos that show acts of kindness to animals
Arts and Entertainment
One of the installations in the Reiner Ruthenbeck exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery
artCritics defend Reiner Ruthenbeck's 'Overturned Furniture'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Opilio Recruitment: QA Automation Engineer

£30k - 38k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: An award-winning consume...

Opilio Recruitment: UX & Design Specialist

£40k - 45k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Opilio Recruitment: Publishing Application Support Analyst

£30k - 35k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We’re currently re...

Opilio Recruitment: Digital Marketing Manager

£35k - 45k per year + benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game