Sky Sports managing director Barney Francis said the pair had been removed from their duties covering tonight's Bolton and Chelsea clash.
He said: "I have spoken directly to both Richard Keys and Andy Gray this morning. It has been made clear to each of them that their comments were totally unacceptable.
"Those views are inexcusable, entirely inconsistent with our ethos as a business and employer and will rightly offend many of our customers, our people and the wider public. They are inexcusable from anyone at Sky, regardless of their role or seniority. We have dealt with this matter by taking immediate disciplinary action."As the smoke clears, the Guardian's Anna Kessel makes some solid points. Not only is she spot on about how serious Keys and Gray sounded, undercutting the "just a joke" defense, but she also offers up a bit of Journalism 101:
Many will question the fairness of leaking a so-called "private" conversation to the press. Let's be clear here, this was not a private conversation. As anyone in television or radio knows, the very definition of "private" is stretched to its limits when you are on the job speaking into a microphone shortly before a live broadcast. Even a first-year journalism student could tell you the first rule in broadcasting is to treat a microphone with respect and always, always behave as if you are being broadcast live to the nation.
Let's not forget, too, the number of people who would have been able to hear that feed – women included – as everyone in the Sky gallery would have been able to listen to their comments.Fellow Guardianista Georgina Turner weighs in as well.
Former referee Graham Poll may lack Kessel or Turner's journalistic chops, but he does provide some valuable insight and a fitting anecdote:
The last time I had the temerity to criticise Keys and Gray for their puerile and unfair attack on referee Uriah Rennie, Keys phoned me and abused me for doing so.
He told me I was punching above my weight and he left me with the impression I wasn’t wanted at Sky. That showed the man’s true colours.
Between the two of them they prevent free speech and thought as any adverse comments are quashed by them.
It's pretty clear Keys and Gray aren't going to fall on their swords — that would require something resembling humility or shame. The ball is in Sky's court as to what punishment it chooses to level against the dynamic duo. It would be churlish of me to wish for Keys and Gray to be sacked for their idiocy, but Sky must send a message that such pig-headed ignorance has no place in a modern, egalitarian society.
Oh, by the way Richard, don’t bother phoning me after this comment — your opinions are of no interest to me.
Lastly, leave it to the one and only Kenn Tomasch to put the perfect punctuation on this episode.
Say what you want about American soccer announcers, but at least we understand the f***ing offside rule.