Tam Cowan off air over women’s football comments

THE BBC will this week hold talks with one of Scotland’s best-known radio presenters after he was pulled from the airwaves over “dreadful” comments about women’s football.
File photo of Tam Cowan. Picture: PAFile photo of Tam Cowan. Picture: PA
File photo of Tam Cowan. Picture: PA

Tam Cowan, one of the hosts of popular Saturday football show Off The Ball, provoked a flurry of criticism after describing the women’s game as a “turgid spectacle”.

In his regular column in the Daily Record, he took aim at the Scottish international team’s fixture with Bosnia on Thursday night, asking: “If women’s football is so good, where the hell are all the supporters? Surely even the most fervent fans must agree it’s time to chuck it?”

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Hours after the article went to press, Cowan was replaced as co-host for Saturday’s edition of the longstanding BBC Radio Scotland football magazine.

It’s unclear what action will be taken against Cowan. He has not been suspended by BBC Scotland. A BBC spokesman said: “Given the comments in his column, it would have been inappropriate for Mr Cowan to appear on the show.”

Entertainment listings and the BBC’s website showed Off the Ball’s Sunday Supplement was due to air yesterday at 11.05am, but a repeat of an Out of Doors programme was broadcast instead.

The spokesman said the football show had been advertised because of a scheduling mistake. It was, he said, unrelated to the incident involving Cowan.

In his column, under the headline, And Now A Message From The Dark Ages, Cowan wrote: “If I had my way, today’s Premiership fixture between Motherwell and Ross County would have been cancelled. That’s because Fir Park should have been torched on Thursday to cleanse the stadium after it played host to women’s football.

“Why do they still persevere with this turgid spectacle? And why was it allowed anywhere near Motherwell’s hallowed turf? Face it folks, nobody cares about women’s football.”

The article featured a photo of Cowan dressed up as Gene Hunt, the sexist fictional character from BBC One’s Life on Mars series. It appeared to pre-empt the response, having included his email address for “all complaints.” In the online edition, an editor’s note added that Cowan’s views were “not necessarily those of the Daily Record as a whole.”

Maureen McGonigle, executive administrator for Scottish Women’s Football, said of Cowan’s comments: “I thought they showed extremely bad taste. It was a dreadful article and very narrow-minded.”

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson accused Cowan of “going back to the 70s with his views.”

Cowan could not be contacted for comment yesterday.