Keys and Sian Massey-Ellis dispute ‘apology’ phone call

Date published: Saturday 18th March 2017 2:42 - Ian Watson

Television presenter Richard Keys has hit back at Sian Massey-Ellis after the assistant referee rekindled the sexism row that engulfed the duo in January 2011.

Massey-Ellis told the Times that Keys rang her to apologise for his role in the saga.

However the former Sky Sports presenter claims to have a record of their telephone conversation and says there was no apology. He called her interview with the newspaper a “bad move”.

Six years ago, Keys and fellow Sky Sports broadcaster Andy Gray landed themselves in hot water for discussing the appointment of Massey – as she was then – for that day’s game between Wolves and Liverpool.

Thinking their microphones were turned off, Keys said “Somebody better get down there and explain the offside rule to her”. Gray responded: “Women don’t know the offside rule”.

Keys resigned and Gray was sacked in the fallout.

Massey-Ellis spoke about the incident in Saturday’s Times, saying: “When Richard rang to apologise on behalf of both of them, and he said, ‘I’m sorry’, I just said, ‘For me, I thought you would know better’.

“In their position, they should have known that just to be on that pitch I must have gone through so much. So much scrutiny, so much training, so many challenges, so much game pressure. I’m not there without being tried and tested over many years.

“I wasn’t really angry. I am not really an angry person. I’m dead laid-back, which probably helps in this job. I was just disappointed in their attitude.”

Keys took to social media to offer his version of events, writing on Twitter “no she didn’t” in response to the apology claim.

He added: “She said ‘oh come on – it was only banter (her words) I expected it last week at Sunderland’.

“Ms Massey also added ‘thanks for not showing the one I cocked up really badly’. I’ve got a record of it all Sian. Bad move.”

In the intervening period, Massey-Ellis has gone on to establish herself as a leading official and is regularly involved in Premier League and Football League matches as well as the UEFA Women’s Champions League and FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifying games.

However, the 31-year-old, who was awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours list, never saw herself as a pioneer.

She added: “Personally, I don’t think about being a trailblazer. As an official, you just want to know you’ve done the job well. You are striving for perfection. It’s impossible to get everything right, but we keep trying.”

The Premier League, when contacted by Press Association Sport, said Massey-Ellis would not be responding to Keys’ claims.

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