Martin Tyler Hillsborough: BBC issue apology following comments from Sky Sports commentator
The BBC have apologised after football commentator Martin Tyler linked the Hillsborough disaster and hooliganism in a Radio 4 interview.
Reflecting on the state of football at the time of his first match he said: “It was a great adventure and 3,000 live matches later – not all commentated by me, thankfully for the public – it does seem like it worked,”
However – he also commented: “You have got to remember football was in a bit of a crisis at that time. We weren’t that long after Hillsborough and other hooligan-related issues as well, so it was very much a difficult time for the game generally.”
Following the comments, Tyler issued an apology through Sky. “This morning, while discussing various crises facing football 30 years ago, I referred to some examples including the Hillsborough disaster and also controversy over hooliganism at matches.
“These are two separate issues. There is no connection at all between the Hillsborough disaster and hooliganism – I know that, and I was not implying that there was. I apologise sincerely and wholeheartedly for any misunderstanding.”
The BBC also apologised for not challenging the comments saying: “We regret that we did not robustly challenge Martin Tyler on a comment which appeared to link Hillsborough and hooliganism. Martin has since apologised for the comment & clarified that these were separate examples and he did not intend to conflate the two.”
Steve Rotheram, the mayor of Liverpool city region, branded the comments as “exceptionally crass” saying: “Even now, people whose careers are built on football still spread these foul smears. I hope there’ll be an apology sharpish.”
Paula Barker, the MP for Liverpool Wavertree, said Tyler’s comments were “disgusting” and criticised the BBC for failing to challenge the remarks.
She tweeted to Sky Sports asking: “How can he be allowed to have a career in sports journalism and perpetuate these lies”?
The disaster during the FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough in Sheffield on April 15 1989 caused the death of 97 Liverpool fans.
An inquest jury ruled in 2016 that the victims were unlawfully killed due to gross negligence manslaughter by the South Yorkshire police officer in command on the day, David Duckenfield.