Sky Sports sacking Andy Gray is well out of order – have the Muppets taken over at Sky and News Corporation?

Sky Sports veteran football analyst Andy Gray has been sacked for making some mildly disobliging remarks about female line runner Sian Massey (his co-host Richard Keys was rather ruder and keeps his job).

The clincher for Gray seems to have been the leak from Sky of a clip on YouTube back in December of allegedly sexist behaviour towards another Sky presenter Charlotte Jackson.

Is this a hanging offence? Come off it luv, as Richard Keys would put it.

Has the management at Sky Sports, in particular managing director Barney Francis, gone stark raving mad? Or were they looking for an excuse to get rid of Gray, who was on a seven figure salary?

Francis has recently taken over from Sky Sports founding boss Vic Wakeling, a shrewd old Fleet Street hand who would have been far too sensible to let this ludicrous affair develop the way it has. But maybe the new broom wants his own team in.

It’s rather reminiscent of the channel’s bizarre decision to sack Soccer Saturday pundit Rodney Marsh back in 2005 when he made an Asian tsunami joke, to wit (about the unlikelihood of David Beckham joining Newcastle): “It’s all about the Asia Toon Army.”

It might not have been particularly funny but sacking him for it?

No doubt Andy and his lawyers will be seeing Sky in court. This is hardly due process after all and there is that pesky Human Rights act.

Which will be another legal burden for the rumbustious former Aston Villa, Everton and Scotland striker as he’s also suing the News of the World (also owned by News Corporation which owns 39 per cent of Sky and would like to buy the remainder) for hacking into his mobile phone.

I wonder if this had anything to do with his sudden unpopularity at Sky?

Gray will no doubt pop up somewhere else. Hang on, where though? Sky owns televised football in the UK and News Corporation, via its UK subsidiary News international, owns most of the newspapers.

Which might be a timely (or untimely if you’re Rupert Murdoch) nudge for culture secretary Jeremy Hunt as he tries to find a way of preventing News’ bid for Sky owner BSkyB heading to the Competition Commission.

Rupert Murdoch is in London on his way to Davos. There are escalating problems galore across his sprawling empire, from News International phone hacking to the BSkyB bid to this wholly unnecessary spat at Sky Sports.

Murdoch pays his managers very well. He might be asking himself if this money is being spent on the right people.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.