Last updated at 11:36 PM on 29th January 2011
The person I really feel sorry for in the Andy Gray-Richard Keys affair is Sian Massey. Gender does not dictate how well you know football and if Sian knows the laws, why shouldn't she be involved in the game?
When Sammy Lee brought the team sheets in last weekend at Wolves, he didn't even mention that one of the assistant referees was a woman. That's a reflection of how unimportant it is.
While all the publicity has been about two Sky broadcasters losing their jobs, it's gone relatively unnoticed that Sian has been stood down from her last two games, running the line in midweek at Crewe and refereeing a non-league game yesterday.
I can understand the thinking of the referees' board in trying to take her out the limelight a little bit, but it still seems unfair if she wants to continue working because she has done absolutely nothing wrong.
If referees' chief Mike Riley had gone to her and found out she was happy to carry on, then he should have let her go ahead. She should make the call and I sincerely hope they have given her the option rather than dictating that she couldn't do yesterday's game.
My biggest fear is that this whole episode is a setback to her career. She must have done well to get where she has and I hope this does not jeopardise anything for her.
Let her decide if she's OK to officiate and, if she is, give her the flag or referee's whistle immediately. My daughter, Kelly, works in football broadcasting and I think she understands the game and how managers and players feel after matches.
I thought it was humbling that when she got married, she changed her surname from Dalglish to Cates because she didn't want to live off the family name. She wanted to be judged on her abilities to do the job and this is what Sian should be judged on as well.
Ironically, I became an unwitting part of the original story last weekend because Keys was recorded at the Wolves-Liverpool game as saying I would 'go potty' if the female assistant made the wrong call.
Of course, I would have done, just as I would have done if a male linesman had made a mistake. It wouldn't be based on gender at all. I have never judged anyone on anything other than their ability to do the job. Colour, creed and gender do not come into it. I know Andy Gray and Richard Keys fairly well. I actually played for Scotland with Andy.
I am not condoning what they said but I don't think the single incident - what they said at Wolverhampton - was enough for them to have lost their jobs. I am sure a few people in the stands at Molineux said something similar ... and they are still working.
Purely as a football fan, the two men were excellent at their jobs and it will be different watching televised football now because they had been fixtures in the coverage for so long.
But it won't take long for them to get back on the television screens somewhere in the world. It's the career of Sian Massey we should be concerned about. She doesn't deserve to be sidelined, not even by the people who are meant to be protecting her.
I had my own 'Richard Keys moment' this week. Not anything sexist, you understand, but something I said which I thought was an off-record remark was broadcast around the country.
When I told the Sky reporter in the aftermath of the Massey story: 'Is it all right for the lady to be here?' it was meant to be a bit of humour before we started the main Press conference.
But the microphones were on and it was used. It was meant to be a little bit of fun, but it won't be happening again.
I have learned my lesson and I apologise to anyone, Richard Keys and Andy Gray included, if it was harmful in any way.
If the mikes are on, there won't be any asides even if it makes things all a bit sombre.
I wasn't happy that it was used, but I have to accept that's the reality of the way things work.
Source, along with the King's thoughts on Ollie's fine and Stoke.
So... I'm glad he said something seeing as they were trying to speak for him in the booth by saying he'd have a problem with a woman officiating. I don't really agree with sticking up for Gray and Keys, but it was actually more than just the comments on Sian Massey that got them sacked. And he seems rightly concerned that the decisions to stand down those games should be hers and not anyone else's. And I thought his off-the-cuff remark was funny, so did a lot of us.